Members of an appointed task force spent more than four months grinding lenses through which a community vision for the future of Lawrence elementary schools could focus.
Now it’s time to write a prescription.
Monday night, members of the Lawrence Elementary School Vision Task Force appointed four members to work with hired consultants. Their task: Write a plan to implement the task force’s ideas for improving elementary buildings and sites in the Lawrence school district, all without losing sight of tight financial resources.
The proposed plan is due by Jan. 3, in time for the task force to meet twice before sending final recommendations to the Lawrence school board by Feb. 1.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Mike Neal, task force facilitator and assistant dean of education administration at Kansas University.
The four members of the working committee:
• Brad Finkeldei, an attorney and member of the task force’s subcommittee working to define neighborhood schools.
• Shannon Kimball, an attorney, former policy specialist for the Georgia Department of Education and member of the subcommittee studying operational “best practices.”
• Tom Waechter, who handles facilities planning issues in the KU provost’s office and serves as chairman of the subcommittee studying the physical conditions of elementary buildings and sites.
• Chuck Warner, retired president of U.S. Bank in Lawrence and chairman of the subcommittee studying school efficiency.
Monday night, before selecting their representatives for the working committee, task force members reviewed each subcommittee’s basic conclusions and found few reasons to quibble.
Portables must go. All schools should be “community” schools. Small class sizes show less benefit for students than quality teachers, parental involvement and early-childhood education.
The efficiency subcommittee would have liked to consider supporting the expansion of preschool programs and the extension full-day kindergarten, but stopped short.
“We brought them up, but we couldn’t figure out how to make them cost less,” Warner said.