Archive for Wednesday, November 6, 2002

School closure advocate speaks

Forum draws first of ‘silent majority’

November 6, 2002


Noelle Fox came to South Junior High School to speak on behalf of a "silent majority" in Lawrence who support closing elementary schools.

"Consolidation and changing boundaries for a number of schools will not be easy, but I believe it to be the best, if not only, option if this community's goal is to provide the best educational situation possible for all of the children in the district," she said.

Fox was among people who spoke Tuesday at a public forum on the district's ongoing facilities planning process. It was the third of six meetings scheduled by the school board and the consulting firm DLR Group, Overland Park.

Board members tentatively have selected East Heights, Centennial and Riverside elementary schools for closure. They've also discussed asking voters to approve a bond issue of at least $50 million to construct and renovate elementary, junior high and high school buildings.

At no previous forum has a member of the public spoke openly in favor of consolidation. However, many people have expressed opposition.

Vicki Scott, the parent of East Heights students, said she questioned the "silent majority" who endorse the demise of the district's smaller elementary schools.

"I've heard a vocal majority," she said.

Centennial parent Adrian Melott added: "I don't support any school closings. I do object to tear down and rebuild."

Fox told about 40 people at a forum that she represented "many parents and families" who reluctantly would vote to allow reduction of the district's 18 elementary schools to permit greater investment in remaining buildings.

"Our school district does not have the money," said Fox, a Deerfield School parent. "That is all there is to it."

The next facilities forum is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

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