Lawrence’s “model” elementary school would feature consistently sized classrooms, gymnasiums, kitchens, libraries, offices, commons areas and other support spaces under a plan envisioned for the district’s future.
And such foresight would remove a collective eyesore.
“Portables — we’re not going to allow that to continue,” said Tom Waechter, chairman of a subcommittee studying the physical conditions of the district’s 15 elementary schools. “We need to address that in one way or another.”
Waechter joined nearly two dozen other volunteers Monday night for the latest in an series of subcommittee workshops, all part of the ongoing work of their combined group appointed by the Lawrence school board: the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force.
The task force’s charge: “Recommend a community vision and plan for the school district’s elementary facilities that reflect the varied community and educational values and how to best reflect those values given the restraints of current and anticipated district resources.”
Each of four subcommittees is focusing on a specific area: assess class sizes and promote other so-called “best practices”; define “neighborhood school”; determine optimal operational costs and financial efficiency; and assess physical conditions of each school.
The “conditions” subcommittee admittedly is reaching a bit beyond its responsibilities, choosing to venture into discussions about operations, efficiencies and other topics sure to come up once all committees share their reports with one another, likely in three weeks.
One example, regarding efficiency: If a school’s classrooms are 20 percent smaller than the district’s “model,” then administrators should consider limiting enrollment in those classes to a level 20 percent below the district maximum.
“That’s just common sense,” said Waechter, father of two elementary students and assistant director of design and construction management at Kansas University.
The task force’s recommendations are due to the board by February.