Archive for Sunday, February 28, 2010

Older buildings put district in tough spot

February 28, 2010


At last week’s meeting, Lawrence school board president Scott Morgan put up a map of Lawrence with a 1.5-mile circle around Fraser Hall.

The high point of the city was once near the center of Lawrence. Today, that circle includes nine of the district’s 15 elementary schools, but only about 30 percent of the district’s 5,200 elementary students.

Morgan, who has come up with the most specific plans about closing schools as the district tries to close a $5 million budget gap, has gained criticism from people who don’t want the district to close any schools.

But he says older school buildings built before 1967 in central and east Lawrence put the district in a tough position, especially when it has had to make budget cuts twice in the last decade.

“We can’t just rest on what was built in the ’50s,” Morgan said. “We’ve got to look at it, and occasionally we might think about how we might want to make it work for our current period.”

He says district leaders should work with neighborhoods in central Lawrence on a long-term plan because so many of the elementary school buildings need upgrades.

Morgan says future suggestions could include turning New York School, the district’s smallest elementary, into a magnet school. And he said it could include upgrading buildings, like at Cordley, or consolidating schools, like Sunset Hill and Hillcrest, into a newer school. But it all would be done while working with neighborhoods, he said.

“(A new school) doesn’t mean bigger. It just means built with the kind of rooms we need today,” Morgan said.

He has already drawn criticism because at the same meeting last week, Morgan mentioned a scenario to save money for next year, including closing Wakarusa Valley School and Sunset Hill.

The group Save Our Neighborhood Schools and other parents say the board should tighten its budget in other areas, including district and school administration, to save $5 million without closing any schools.

Even though a majority of board members last week said they were willing to at least look at closing schools to save money, several said administrators needed to develop a specific criteria before board members discuss which schools to close.


weeslicket 8 years, 3 months ago

funny how this piece got buried at the bottom of the state and regional section rather than in the local news section. please correct the error ljw.

workinghard 8 years, 3 months ago

Money was provided in the last bond election for upgrades for the older schools The upgrades are sitting behind LHS and over at FSH. In other words, the money didn't go where the voters intended it to. I guess Cordley could hold classes in the LHS stadium.

Brian Hall 8 years, 3 months ago

“We can’t just rest on what was built in the ’50s,” Morgan said.

But we can rest on schools built in 1915 (Cordley), 1923 (Central Jr. High), 1924 (Woodlawn), 1931 (Pinckney) and 1934 (New York). I know all those schools have been added onto or were built larger but Morgan's statement makes no sense. Again, no offense to Cordley but there is no room to grow there. Centennial never should've been closed as it was newer than Cordley and had room to expand if needed.

However, let me put on my "Jerk" hat here and say, by looking at the school boundaries, you could probably siphon kids to Cordley, New York and Prairie Park and close Kennedy but move the Virtual School and East Heights there closing Centennial and East Heights.

Or how 'bout the people at 110 McDonald go five in an office and share their large building with the Virtual School and East Heights?

kugrad 8 years, 3 months ago

The original New York building, which was replaced with the new one, was built 141 years ago! That is some history that should not be dismissed lightly. Langston Hughes attended NY and Pinckney.

maudeandcecil 8 years, 3 months ago

Paulette2, You wrote, "So why was so much money spent recently on Cordley and Central East Jr. High then?" Perhaps you're thinking of New York because there has not been a significant amount of money invested in Cordley for some time. In fact based on Cordley, it doesn't appear that the district has established guidelines to ensure adequate school building maintenance or if it does- the guidelines are so inadequate they're irrelevant.

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