To the editor:
Lawrence’s school task force recommends closing Wakarusa Valley and eventually consolidating several urban schools. Of all schools discussed, WV requires the least structural investment, and purported savings are a small fraction of the budget shortfall. Because WV kids are spread across more than 51,000 acres, transporting them to other schools will require more than two hours each day on a bus — a steep price for a 5-year-old. Least quantifiable but real, the change for a child switching from a rural to an urban school is arguably greater than moving from one urban school to another. Certainly no two urban elementary schools are alike, but schools separated by blocks are more similar in feel than an urban vs. a rural school.
Downtown school advocates promote task force recommendations without mentioning any of these issues, the increased taxes required to fund their new schools or the greater savings realized if their schools were closed. The disproportionate suffering of WV kids, who will have their peer groups split up and be bused for hours to urban environments their parents pointedly chose to avoid — all to save a mere fraction of needed funds — is not acknowledged.
Once-unified cries of “don’t close our schools” have degenerated into “save my own school, even if closing others makes no fiscal sense and imposes insanely long bus rides on other people’s kids.” Like eminent domain cases, WV families don’t have a choice. Unlike most eminent domain cases, this scenario results in no greater good. Why are we discussing one school closure in isolation from the other 87 percent of our budget woes?