To the editor:
Observing that Lawrence is becoming more urbanized, the editorial in the Oct. 13 Journal-World called for a vision for "parks, schools, and public buildings with logical connections to individual neighborhoods." The new Lawrence and Douglas County Adequate Public Facilities report corroborates the uncertain relationship in Lawrence and Douglas County between schools planning and other elements of planning for growth. The Lawrence planning director says that urbanization is currently occurring here "without direction."
This is not a time to rush to close any urban elementary schools. Research studies document the harm to city centers and neighborhoods when schools are closed. And low-income, at-risk students fare better in small elementary schools than in large ones. Quail Run's success with its large population, under 7 percent low-income, cannot predict the experience in a large elementary school with 90 percent of its children from low-income homes.
It is wrong to rush the public with claims that we would save $14.1 million by closing three elementary schools. This is not an amount currently spent on these schools. It is the amount DLR would have USD 497 pay to improve facilities, but not reduce class sizes or improve instruction.
The proposed $50 million bond issue includes $10 million for an essentially new alternative school that will serve far fewer students than the three elementaries currently on the chopping block.
It would be visionary, and even cost-effective, to reinvest in the small schools in the urban heart of Lawrence. A vital city center benefits all of Lawrence.
Brad and Susan Tate,