Archive for Thursday, October 28, 1999


October 28, 1999


The Lawrence school district will be challenged to find solutions to enrollment inequities at elementary schools.

Debating public school boundaries is akin to sitting down to dinner and finding nothing but a can of worms.

And people with sharp memories of past tinkering with school enrollment imbalances have little interest in big servings of squirming controversy.

"I'm very uncomfortable with opening the can of worms," said Austin Turney, Lawrence school board vice president.

In that vein, the school board directed members of the district's boundary committee to convene tonight to study only the highs and lows of enrollment problems at elementary schools.

Committee members gathering at 5:30 p.m. in the district's Service Center won't be asked to make recommendations to the board about overcrowding at three of four junior highs.

The committee will focus initially on crowding at Sunflower elementary. It has 517 students, but a building capacity of 502. Overcrowding would be exacerbated in the future with the anticipated construction of more than 150 single-family homes near the school.

Shifting students away from Sunflower might help address requests from other schools for more students. Centennial and Broken Arrow schools would like to bolster enrollments.

"We can come back with one or two options for taking care of it," said Mary Loveland, who is on the school board and the boundary committee.

Board member Leni Salkind welcomed the committee's review of elementary school enrollments. She said there was a sense the school board had "ignored some of these requests in the past."

"I think we would be remiss if we didn't at least think about it in a formal way. It doesn't commit us to anything," board member Jack Davidson added.

The school board Monday took preliminary steps to set a boundary for the $6.7 million Langston Hughes School, a west Lawrence elementary under construction and set to open in August. Based on the boundary committee's recommendation, Hughes likely will draw 100 students from overcrowded Quail Run and slice a dozen from Deerfield.

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

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