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Archive for Tuesday, December 14, 1999

SCHOOL BOUNDARIES TO SHIFT

December 14, 1999

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Boundary changes will shift about 200 students to new elementary schools next fall.

The Lawrence school board Monday turned aside parental opposition to approve transfer of 78 students from crowded Sunflower School to underused Broken Arrow School.

After hearing from parents upset about the idea, the board voted 4-3 in favor of all recommended boundary adjustments. Overall, about 200 Lawrence students will attend new schools next fall.

Voting in favor were Sue Morgan, Austin Turney, Jack Davidson and Scott Morgan, who has children at Sunflower. Opposed: Leni Salkind, James Hilliard and Mary Loveland.

Here's the result:

  • 113 students will move from crowded Quail Run School to Langston Hughes School when it opens in August 2000.
  • 78 students from Sunflower will be transferred to Broken Arrow.
  • 14 students from Deerfield School will head to Langston Hughes.
  • Zero students will be moved by shifting a chunk of land near Clinton Lake from Sunflower to Wakarusa Valley School.

Board members agreed, with Hilliard dissenting, to exempt all fifth-graders from the boundary changes. They also agreed four Quail Run students could avoid moving to Hillcrest if they provided their own transportation to Quail Run.

Public comment focused exclusively on the Sunflower-to-Broken Arrow proposal.

Sunflower parents didn't want to leave a school in which they had invested time and energy for years. Some felt it was foolish for Sunflower students to leapfrog closer schools, such as Schwegler School, to attend Broken Arrow.

"It is not convenient for the families and children involved," said parent Paul Buskirk.

Other points raised by parents: Broken Arrow lacks onsite before- and after-school child care; Broken Arrow's earlier start and dismissal times will adversely affect parents; and, Sunflower students could have trouble adjusting to Broken Arrow's system of clustering four classes in a single large room.

In addition, several parents wondered why Sunflower's crowding couldn't be dealt with by shifting more students to Langston Hughes, which is scheduled to open around one-third capacity.

Davidson said the Sunflower boundary adjustment could be postponed until February, but Assistant Supt. Randy Weseman said a delay would harm the district's ability to hire high-quality new teachers.

"We obviously couldn't staff those schools," Weseman said.

The boundary issue might resurface next year. But instead of modest changes, the school board could be looking at school consolidation.

"We're not ready for that now," Turney said.

-- Tim Carpenter's phone message number is 832-7155. His e-mail address is tcarpenter@ljworld.com.

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