Rejection of the Lawrence school board's $59 million bond issue in April won't block elementary school consolidation, the school board's vice president said Monday.
"A vote against the bond issue will not affect school closings," Austin Turney declared on the eve of the primary election for school board. "It will only hamper the education of our children."
Voters today trim the 13-candidate field to eight. On April 1, the general election resolves which four earn seats on the board. Balloting in April also determines the fate of the bond proposal for school construction.
A controversial part of the bond is closure of East Heights and Centennial schools. Students would move to New York and Cordley schools after bond-financed additions were built at both schools.
Turney, a bond supporter not facing re-election, said the real meat of the bond plan dealt with overdue repair and construction at 16 district schools -- not elementary consolidation.
Closure of elementary schools gained favor on the board as the district grappled with declining enrollment and loss of state funding, Turney said.
Turney said savings could permit the board to avoid large reductions in academic and activity budgets in 2003-2004.
Jack Davidson, the only board member to vote against the bond proposal, said Turney was right to say the current school board would close elementary schools even if the bond failed April 1.
However, Davidson said Turney was mistaken to urge voters to separate school closures from the bond.
"The bond and consolidation are all related," Davidson said. "The bond will be decided in April. We'll also decide which of the eight candidates best answers the question of consolidation."