A few extra notes from Monday's meeting of an advisory group appointed in May by the Lawrence school board, and whose work is due by the end of the month:
Members of the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force may not have been able to reach consensus Monday night — recommend closing one elementary school next year or two? — but they’ll get a chance to put their ideas in writing before officials take another shot next week.
The 20 task force members attending Monday’s meeting were asked by Mike Neal, the group’s moderator, to forward e-mails to Rick Doll, superintendent of Lawrence public schools, outlining thoughts they may have about recommending closures.
The members already had agreed two weeks ago to consider recommending closure of either one or two of the following three elementary schools: Cordley, Pinckney or Wakarusa Valley. But during Monday night’s deliberations, no consensus emerged.
Neal attempted several times to convince members to express their thoughts, but a number of the appointees remained silent. Task force co-chairmen Rich Minder and Scott Morgan both tried to gather support for recommending the closure of one school next year — Wakarusa Valley — while planning for consolidation of four schools into two within three to five years: Kennedy and New York in eastern Lawrence, and Hillcrest and Sunset Hill in central Lawrence.
“We would move forward with that as a basic framework,” Morgan said, describing the work of his fellow task force members as “incredible” thus far.
Neal said that task force members could use e-mail to offer opinions or seek out information — all to help move the group closer to achieving consensus during the next meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. Monday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.
(FYI: I’ve been attending task force meetings since August, and I’m making arrangements to receive copies of any e-mails sent this week to Doll from task force members.)
The task force is scheduled to present its recommendations Feb. 28 to the Lawrence school board.
District reports about each of the potential closures and/or consolidations are available online in the Resources section of the task force's web page.
The longest bus route for a student at Wakarusa Valley School is 52 minutes, and that number wouldn’t be expected to increase much — if at all — should the school be closed next year and its students enrolled at other elementary schools in Lawrence, a district official said.
The longest current bus ride starts at 6:38 a.m. for one student, who gets dropped off at school at 7:30 a.m., said Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer.
Consultations with representatives from First Student Inc., the district’s transportation provider, determined that no student’s bus ride would increase by more than 15 minutes. That’s because even if existing bus routes were retained, and students continued to be taken to the school at 1104 E. 1000 Road (just southeast of Clinton Lake), driving to another school from there would take no more than 15 minutes, Harwood said.
More likely, Harwood said: First Student could conduct a more detailed study to determine where students were coming from and adjust for where they would be going.
“They believe they can get any one route to less than one hour,” Harwood told members of the task force.
District administrators would anticipate Wakarusa Valley students being spread out among three schools in the southern part of Lawrence: Broken Arrow, Schwegler and Sunflower.
Along with Wakarusa Valley, Cordley and Pinckney schools also are being considered by task force members as candidates for possible closure next year.
According to district officials, here’s where students from Cordley and Pinckney would be expected to attend:
• If Cordley closed, students could go to Kennedy, New York, Pinckney, Quail Run and Schwegler schools.
• If Pinckney closed, students could go to Deerfield, New York, Sunset Hill and Woodlawn schools.
• If both schools closed — something task force members tentatively agreed Monday that they would not pursue — students could go to Broken Arrow, Deerfield, Hillcrest, Kennedy, New York, Quail Run, Schwegler, Sunset Hill and Woodlawn schools.