To the editor:
So the debate begins on the budget gap for Lawrence’s schools. Predictably, it’s centering on closing schools. In the interest of making sure we are truly looking at all possible solutions, I suggest the following: Close Langston Hughes.
Surely no elementary school in the district comes close to the cost of maintaining the 50 acres of grounds Langston Hughes sits on, especially compared to the few city blocks other schools occupy. Snow removal costs alone must be tremendous.
For the students, adjustment would be minimal. They and their parents already have to drive to get to everything else in their lives. What is another hour or so a day on a bus? Plus, more time on the bus means parents pay for less baby-sitting time and other after-school care programs.
And since these discussions usually focus on short-term gains while ignoring the long-term consequences to the community, we could surely save a lot by simply defaulting on any outstanding bonds or debt accrued in the building of Langston Hughes. New York, Cordley and Kennedy have been paid off for decades. In amortized terms, they will be cheaper to operate for generations.
So there you go. Maybe not the solution you expected, but that’s the point. Hopefully it will cause people to be a bit less myopic about the possibilities facing us, and to look at ideas (returning to full day Wednesdays, thereby shortening the school year a week and a half, perhaps?) that fall outside the lines of our typical reactions to a crisis like this.