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Archive for Monday, December 12, 2011

Cordley, New York schools add ideas to Lawrence elementary consolidation mix

Students in Nancy Orsburn's second-grade class at New York School line up to head outside for recess on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011. On Monday, proposals were submitted by representatives of New York and Cordley schools on the topic of consolidation. Both groups believe their is room to expand on the campuses of their respective schools.

Students in Nancy Orsburn's second-grade class at New York School line up to head outside for recess on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011. On Monday, proposals were submitted by representatives of New York and Cordley schools on the topic of consolidation. Both groups believe their is room to expand on the campuses of their respective schools.

December 12, 2011

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With consolidation proposals forwarded by representatives from all six Lawrence elementary schools identified for potential closure, an advisory group’s work now turns to determining which one, if any, might work in the months and years ahead.

Formal submissions from representatives of Cordley and New York schools are set to be reviewed Monday night by members of the Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Consolidation Working Group, the group charged with recommending a plan for shrinking a list of 14 elementary schools by either two or three within the next two years.

Group representatives from the other four schools identified by the Lawrence school board for potential consolidation — Hillcrest, Kennedy, Pinckney and Sunset Hill — had their ideas reviewed last week.

Now that all six of the schools have plans on the table, group members intend to ask more questions, compare notes, review research, weigh pros and cons and take into account other factors before settling on a plan to be forwarded to the school board by the end of January.

“There’s an answer in there somewhere,” said Chris Lempa, a representative from the New York School community, 936 N.Y. “I don’t think it’s fair for any one school to come up with the full answer. We’ll spend lots of hours talking about these, hashing these out. …

“We have a real good group. We’ll come up with what’s good for Lawrence, both now and in the future.”

New to the mix are proposals from Cordley and New York, neither of whose representatives settled on a single direction to pursue.

New York representatives, for example, suggest three possibilities for schools in eastern Lawrence:

• Consolidate Kennedy and New York in a new school that would be built on land southeast of 15th Street and Haskell Avenue, a proposal previously suggested by representatives from Kennedy and also offered by Cordley representatives as an option. But compiling enough land likely would mean trading property with the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, picking up park land from the city of Lawrence and acquiring two private homes and their lots. And at least one of the homeowners has no intention of selling.

“When we talked to the school board, they told us to come up with the utopian solution,” Lempa said. “We’re looking at our utopian solution, the best case scenario.”

• Consolidate Cordley and Kennedy on city property southwest of 19th Street and Haskell, now home to a city park, a municipal maintenance site and an area for training firefighters. “It’s a good spot, and the city does own other land,” Lempa said. Pinckney could close, sending its students to an expanded New York, which potentially could expand its lot to handle overflow parking.

• Consolidate Cordley with an expanded New York, potentially sending some students to Kennedy and Schwegler schools. Pinckney either would remain open or send its students to a consolidated Hillcrest. Either way, Kennedy and New York would remain open and be expanded and updated as necessary.

“We recognize that the work before this group will take a great deal of compromise, with input from all parties,” the New York representatives say in their written proposal.

Cordley representatives also suggest three possibilities for schools in eastern Lawrence and acknowledge that each concept comes with “significant drawbacks”:

• Consolidate Cordley and Kennedy in a new school southeast of 15th and Haskell, a plan they say could threaten New York’s viability because the new school would be within New York’s current enrollment boundaries.

• Consolidate Kennedy and New York on land southeast of 15th and Haskell, the proposal previously suggested by representatives from Kennedy and also envisioned by folks from New York. But the lot might be too small, unless adjacent properties could be acquired.

• Consolidate Cordley and New York at Cordley, 1837 Vt., a building that would be upgraded and expanded. They consider New York’s site too small for expansion and too remote for many Cordley students to walk there.

Cordley representatives recommend retaining all three consolidation candidates in central Lawrence: Hillcrest, Pinckney and Sunset Hill. Among other reasons, they say, is that any combined school in that area would be too large.

“Therefore,” Cordley’s representatives say, in their written report, “we recommend renovations to the existing schools: additions to Hillcrest and Sunset Hill to allow elimination of portables, and needed repairs to all three schools.”

The plans will be up for review during the working group’s next meeting: 7 p.m. Monday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

Comments

LadyJ 3 years ago

"Consolidate Cordley and Kennedy on city property southwest of 19th Street and Haskell" Isn't there a problem bar just across the street from there? No telling what else will go in there. That is not a safe area for a school.

beaujackson 3 years ago

Consolidating (closing) Cordley would be (almost) the final "solution" for elementary schools in central Lawrence. Schwegler would then be the last kid on the block - only because it is kept "alive" by bussing.

Lawrence can then look with pride on complete displacement of families in all central Lawrence single family zoned neighborhoods. In their place will be a giant KU student rental slum - from Iowa to Mass., & 6th to 23rd..

Imagine, four square miles of central Lawrence without an elementary school.

Thanks a lot, city commissioners. Your ignorant shortsightedness is astounding.

Bob_Loblaw 3 years ago

Yes.....this...... I'll be leaving ASAP....I've seen the number of slum rentals increase significantly the past 12 years. The Student Ghetto is hungry and becoming Borg-like. The greed of the landlords is also amazing...students won't complain about trash and peeling paint etc.

George_Braziller 3 years ago

It's more like a pipe dream.

“When we talked to the school board, they told us to come up with the utopian solution,” Lempa said. “We’re looking at our utopian solution, the best case scenario.”

tyson travis 3 years ago

Why do so many of these plans involve consolidation of existing schools, but also mention construction of new buildings on various parcels of supposedly city-owned land? Keep the neighborhood schools intact, I don't see anything wrong with the Pinckney, New York and Cordley facilities, except they're a bit old, why go into debt to build entirely new buildings and campuses? Newer is always nice to have, but remodeling and computer tech upgrades can upgrade these at lower cost, and be a greener solution. I walked to school or rode a bike for years and did fine, why reinvent everything? Moving everything out of the neighborhoods destroys their identities, elementary students shouldn't have so far to go to get to school. Cordley student, 1950-57.

Bob_Loblaw 3 years ago

Yes!.....Yes!.......and for the love of God / Buddha / Allah (whatever).......Yes!!!!

aryastark1984 3 years ago

Good question. Q: Why do they involve building new buildings? Answer, because none of our schools has enough excess capacity to accommodate the population of another school. These schools are all at at least 80% capacity. Better question: Why are we contemplating closing schools in the first place. Look at the projected costs savings for these consolidation scenarios (Chris Lempa's links) and ask yourself whether it is worth it

Chris Lempa 3 years ago

All of the proposals can be found here: http://www.usd497.org/consolidation/

The direct link for the New York proposal is here: http://www.usd497.org/consolidation/documents/NewYorkScenarios.pdf and Cordley's is here: http://www.usd497.org/consolidation/documents/CordleyGroupProposal--finaldraft.pdf.

I encourage everyone reading this to look at the proposals.

aryastark1984 3 years ago

"To be comprehensive, we have considered newly‐available data on projected growth in elementary enrollments (which are concentrated in the South and East areas of Lawrence), the Task Force’s assessment of elementary school capacity, and the value of educational equity. The enrollment‐growth projections are available now for the first time in any of the consolidation discussions, and we believe they have significant implications for our task."

Thanks for posting this Chris. Can you also post the enrollment projections and tell us about the source of this information?

Editorial comment: Call me crazy, but I would have thought that this was the sort of information the Consolidation Task Force should have demanded. Ready. Fire. Aim.

Chris Lempa 3 years ago

@arastark1984 asked, "Thanks for posting this Chris. Can you also post the enrollment projections and tell us about the source of this information?"

That information can be found here: http://www.usd497.org/consolidation/documents/LawrenceProjections201112_ES.pdf

Please note that everything we receive from the district is located at http://www.usd497.org/consolidation/.

deec 3 years ago

With the big push to add apartments in downtown and east lawrence, isn't it likely some of those people will have children? New York is just a few blocks from the downtown and Poehler projects.

beaujackson 3 years ago

The school board simply "parrots" the 497 administration, which has little or no foresight. It's called, "the blind, leading the blind", and has been this way since the 1970's.

497 administrators and school board are simply "passing the buck" to the various families representing various schools re. consolidation. Most will likely feel they have been "used" when final decisions are made and much of their advice has been ignored.

KU student rental property has supplanted families with children in central Lawrence, thus no need for elementary schools.

Student rental housing has created the "donut hole" effect of displacing families from SF zoned neighborhoods that SHOULD be populated by young people in "starter" homes. Instead, central Lawrence is mostly overpriced rental property. Great for slumlords. Bad for families whose children would be attending schools that are closing, or have closed. Also, bad for businesses in the area, and expensive for all Lawrence taxpayers who are paying higher taxes caused by school "consolidations".

Lawrence elementary school problems are the result of poor city planning and ineffective zoning control.

Neighborhood groups warned both city commissioners and 497 administrators in the late 90's about this coming problem, and presented ideas how to forestall the current situation, but their advice was ignored.

The few remaining children and all Lawrence taxpayers are now paying for the stubborn "I know it all" attitude of both 497 and the city.

Think it's bad now? It will get worse.

aryastark1984 3 years ago

You should actually read Chris Lempkey's linked documents. The East side is NOT hollowing out. The largest projected growth in enrollment is for New York school (>33%). Substantial growth are also expected for Pinkney and Hillcrest and some growth for Cordley too. Growth is flat or down for West side schools like Quail Run and Langston Hughes.

Ockhams_Razor 3 years ago

"And at least one of the homeowners has no intention of selling."


Eminent domain can be exercised by school districts. Wichita recently sought to acquire twenty-eight residences for expansion of Wichita North High. Seven properties are going to court. See: http://www.kansas.com/2011/12/12/2138252/wichita-school-board-will-take.html

1029 3 years ago

Maybe they should let the schoolchildren come up with the consolidation plan. If these are the leaders of the future, maybe it is a good time for them to get some practice on how to make real-life decisions.

Tara Painter 3 years ago

I have children in Kennedy, doing this makes it to far for my young kids to walk, who would be closer to Parrie Park, why spend money on a new building and just fix the old ones, plus given the thought but its not a very smart idea putting a elementary school on such a high traffic street, with most of these schools being low income, a lot of these kids walk to school.

Joe Hyde 3 years ago

If Lawrence has ambitions of saving the city's central zone for residential upgrades and long term habitation by families with children (and I hope it does have that ambition) the key is keeping Cordley School open and in full operation. Expand its size and operations even.

Cordley is the lynchpin; if it gets closed down there will instantly begin a central city rot that goes into real estate death spiral. The only way to kill that awful future is to drop a stout load of building funds into the chamber, point for center mass and pull the trigger.

Ockhams_Razor 3 years ago

"...begin a central city rot...."

begin??

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