To the editor:
If you have concluded that school closings are inevitable, I have an idea. Organize a petition in your community and volunteer your own neighborhood school for closure. If the budget crisis is becoming divisive, maybe it’s because it seems that everyone who says that closure is necessary is talking about someone else’s school. This is far more than an administrative decision; it disrupts the fabric of a community, and sends us on a declining spiral. Closed schools lower property values, which reduces the tax base. You say you are cutting costs but end up with less revenue. In any case, you are exchanging smaller schools that have proven effective for larger settings, which the research tells us are inferior at the elementary level.
We are one district, in this crisis together. Let’s agree that we will spread out any truly necessary sacrifices as fairly as we can. For example, if the state has reduced funding per student by 10 percent, why have we not shortened the school year accordingly? Most importantly, let’s shield the kids from cuts where we can. To share administrative and support staff on a “circuit” between schools a few blocks apart like West and Hillcrest may be inconvenient, but it is far less disruptive than uprooting hundreds of students.
There are plenty of smart people in Lawrence who are motivated to help. Open up the budget and get a community task force working on it. Don’t close schools. We can do this.