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Archive for Sunday, June 28, 1998

PARENTS AGAIN RALLY AROUND GRANT SCHOOL

June 28, 1998

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Grant School parents are not wavering in the fight to keep the school open.

The opening of a new school on the city's west side should not be contingent on closing one on the east side.

So say parents of students attending Grant School, which will be closed and merged with Woodlawn if a bond issue approved by the Lawrence school board gets the go-ahead from voters in November.

``We strongly support building another school,'' Grant site council member Rich Bireta said. ``But we disagree that these two issues need to be linked.''

District administrators have asserted that the school, with 79 students, costs more to operate than other schools in the district.

Bireta disagrees.

``You're not going to save the salary of the principal,'' he said. ``That's still going to be there.''

Paulette Strong currently serves as principal at Grant and Woodlawn and would work full-time at Woodlawn if the schools were merged.

Bireta also pointed to the issue of transportation.

``You'd be hard-pressed to find a kid within a mile of Grant,'' he said. ``That transportation cost (to Woodlawn) will still be there.''

Grant site council Chair Don Dorsey agreed and said he is tired of seeing the issue of closing the school come up year after year.

``It's safe to say that Grant parents want to keep the school open and are very passionate about that,'' he said. ``I think there's wide support for that in the community.''

Lawrence school board member Austin Turney said at the June 15 meeting that he, too, opposed closing Grant.

``I think this is an ideal way to get a bond issue that's divisive,'' he said.

But, others, including board member Carol Linhos, disagreed.

``I'm for closing Grant because it's fiscally sound,'' she said.

That raises the hackles of parents like Susan Wolfe-Shirk. She and other parents will be at the board meeting Monday to voice opposition to the proposal.

``We came to this district with the building already paid for,'' she said.

As for the approximately $130,000 district administrators say could be saved by closing the school, Wolfe-Shirk said the numbers are misleading.

``It's not even a budget problem,'' she said. ``The $130,000 to the district is like a family budget looking for a toothpick.''

Administrators are expected to present more specific cost estimates on the merger at the board meeting on Monday.

For Woodlawn parents and teachers, the merger is just as significant. While it would mean more money for renovations to the school, it would also bring the building's enrollment up from 165 to 244.

``I think it could be done in a positive fashion,'' Woodlawn site council member Ruth Hurst said. ``There's already some familiarity between Grant and Woodlawn parents.''

Hurst said she understands the reluctance on the part of the Grant community to give up their school.

``They're very much of a community and we're very much of a community,'' she said. ``Whenever you merge two schools, hopefully you take the best of both. I think it could be a good change.''

The board meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday at the district service center, 3705 Clinton Pkwy.

--JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is jwatson@ljworld.com.

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