School board President Scott Morgan has a holiday suggestion: Those questioning the Lawrence board's proposed $59 million bond issue should set aside their concerns about the plan until the new year.
"I suggest everyone take a deep breath and relax -- enjoy the holidays," he said.
Morgan thinks 18 months of debate about school facilities have created tension and worries in the community, and people just need to take a break.
He said there would be plenty of time in January, February and March to sort through details of the board's proposal, which would upgrade school buildings across the district. Associated with the bond-issue blueprint is the board's plan to close Riverside, East Heights and Centennial schools.
The board voted 6-1 to put the $59 million bond issue before voters April 1. Four seats on the board will be decided on the same ballot.
"There will be time enough after the first of the year to discuss, debate and analyze whether those of us on the board have our heads screwed on right or have just completely missed the point," said Morgan, who is among four board members facing re-election.
None of the foursome -- Sue Morgan, Mary Loveland, Scott Morgan and Jack Davidson -- have made public their re-election plans.
Scott Morgan said supporters and opponents of the bond issue continued to inquire about the board's facility plan.
"The community's questions are good ones and deserve answers," he said. "They will come. The community should expect nothing less from a board asking for the level of commitment and change represented by our proposal."
Under the board's plan:
- $9.2 million would be devoted to expanding Cordley and New York schools to handle more students upon closure of Centennial and East Heights.
- Improvements slated for Broken Arrow, Deerfield, Hillcrest, Quail Run, Sunset Hill and Wakarusa Valley schools would cost $3.6 million.
- In the junior high schools, South would be demolished and rebuilt for $21.2 million. Classroom renovations at Central and West and additions at Southwest would cost $9 million.
- Extensive renovations at Lawrence High School would cost $8.9 million.
- Expanding Lawrence Alternative High School campus would add $6.8 million to the bond issue.
Scott Morgan said people generally supportive of school bond issues had expressed doubts about the willingness of voters to approve the measure. The overall cost, elementary consolidation, the weak economy and concerns about individual school enhancements have been mentioned frequently as reasons the bond issue might fail.
Scott Morgan said he could probably think of 1,000 reasons the bond proposal could fail.
"Finding a path to failure requires no great gift," he said. "Finding a path to success requires elements of faith, fortitude and a basic belief in the decency of the average person in this town to do what is right for our kids."