When it came time to put pen to paper, city commissioners toned down a letter that once was designed to urge Lawrence school board members to not close any schools in the district.
On a 4-1 vote Tuesday, city commissioners agreed to send a revised letter to school board members that expressed concern about possible school closings but stopped short of directly asking the board to not close schools.
“I just felt it was inappropriate to direct them to do something,” said Commissioner Mike Dever, who suggested the toned-down language. “But I felt like it was important for us to weigh in on the issue.”
The original draft letter asked the board “not to close any of Lawrence’s schools.” The approved letter replaces that phrase with a request for the board “to carefully consider the impact of school closures on the community as a whole and the neighborhoods affected by the closures.”
Mayor Rob Chestnut voted against sending the letter, but will sign it because that is a customary duty of the mayor.
Chestnut said he understood the importance of neighborhood schools, but that he wasn’t comfortable with the commission taking a position on the issue without better understanding the district’s entire situation.
Commissioner Lance Johnson voted for the letter because he said he supported the spirit of the message, but expressed concern that the city was offering advice without offering a specific solution.
“I am concerned that this is really just lip service unless we back it up and say this is how we can help you,” Johnson said.
Commissioners Mike Amyx and Aron Cromwell both had suggested the city send the letter. Amyx said he preferred the original language that was more explicit in asking the board to not close schools.
“I would urge them to truly make closing any neighborhood school the last decision they consider,” Amyx said.