Facing millions of dollars worth of state revenue shortfalls, Lawrence school board members are considering everything when it comes to making up the deficit.
That includes the possibility of closing some elementary schools.
While board members haven’t discussed whether they want to venture down that route or what schools could be up for closure, parents at two east Lawrence schools aren’t waiting for that to happen.
The group Save Cordley has formed, and parents from Cordley and New York schools met Saturday to talk about the future of their children’s schools.
“We’re talking about downtown neighborhoods that are very vulnerable,” Cordley parent Sharon Ashworth said. “If the schools go, so do the families.”
The district is facing a midyear cut of $3 million. Two-thirds of that deficit will be made up using savings and carryover cash funds. But the district will probably start the 2010-11 school year $4 million in the hole.
“We’re not looking to close troubled schools, which would make it a lot easier,” school board President Scott Morgan said. “We’re just looking for money.”
The board will begin discussions on how to make up the shortfalls starting Jan. 11. While it’s unclear whether it will look at closing schools, Ashworth and other parents don’t want to take any chances.
“Everybody knows that times are tight and things need to go. We fully understand that,” Ashworth said. “We hope to work with the board to find ways to deal with the crisis.”
Cordley School was on the short list a few years ago, but the board decided to close Centennial School instead.
“Centennial ended up losing primarily because it was closer to Broken Arrow and Schwegler,” said Morgan, who was on the board that made the decision. “We were trying to spread them out more.”
Superintendent Rick Doll said there’s no short list of schools up for potential closure.
“The board hasn’t even discussed whether they’re going to close anything,” Doll said.
But Morgan said he isn’t surprised that Cordley and New York parents have mobilized.
“All of the schools that are smaller know they’re potentially at risk if we’re going to look at school closings,” Morgan said. “Last time we went through it, schools with one-section grades tend to get on the list.”
Parents are hoping that closing schools won’t be the way the board decides to make up the funding shortfall.
“One thing we do know is the budget crisis is temporary,” Ashworth said. “But closing a school is permanent.”