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Archive for Thursday, October 21, 1999

BOUNDARY COMMITTEE DRAWS LINES FOR HUGHES SCHOOL

October 21, 1999

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In addition to the Langston Hughes School boundaries, the committee also may wrestle with junior high overcrowding and low enrollment at several elementary schools.

A Lawrence school district committee Wednesday proposed a boundary for the new Langston Hughes School that would remove 115 students from Quail Run and Deerfield schools.

The $6.7 million elementary school in west Lawrence would open in August with 104 students from bulging Quail Run and 11 students from Deerfield, if the committee's plan is approved by the school board.

Committee chair Tom Bracciano, supervisor of transportation and safety for the district, said new housing construction could push opening-day enrollment at Hughes to 170 students. The school board had anticipated starting with at least 200.

Hughes is under construction near the planned intersection of George Williams Way and Harvard Road north of 15th Street.

The 13-member boundary committee agreed to ask the school board Monday whether committee members should delve into crowding at three of the four junior highs in the district. Some have advocated shifting ninth-graders to the district's two high schools.

"Before the committee does a lot of work, a decision needs to be made about ninth-graders," Bracciano said.

He said the committee also wants direction from the board about whether it should make boundary recommendations related to underutilization of elementary schools.

Meanwhile, the committee's boundary proposal for Hughes didn't address crowding at Sunflower School. That's a subject for the committee's next meeting, 5:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Service Center, 3705 Clinton Parkway.

Quail Run is the district's largest elementary, with 626 students, and Sunflower is the second biggest with 517. Deerfield has 506 students.

Sheila Stogsdill, the city's assistant planning director and a committee member, said development of 84 housing lots next to Sunflower was on the fast track. Planners follow a formula that says each home has about 0.5 children.

"During the next school year, certainly these 84 houses will be populated," she said. "I think you need to adjust Sunflower."

Mary Loveland, a member of the school board and boundary committee, said the district should avoid quick fixes that created bizarre school territories. But she agreed that residential housing growth around Sunflower necessitated reworking of boundaries.

"You better create capacity at Sunflower," she said.

The committee anticipates requests from representatives of Broken Arrow and Centennial schools to change boundaries in ways that add students at those schools. In the past four years, enrollment at both has fallen 50 students. Each has capacity for 100 more students.

"They'll be talking to us pretty hard," said Larry Stuckey, a committee member and the district's director of buildings and grounds.

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

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