The Lawrence school district is making plans to add full-day kindergarten at two schools next year if — and it’s a big if — Lawrence school board members agree to close Wakarusa Valley School.
Both Broken Arrow and Sunflower schools would be added to the list of eight existing schools that offer full-day programming at the kindergarten level. The district would use money that would be freed up by the closure of Wakarusa Valley.
Board members are scheduled to discuss and possibly approve the proposed school closure Monday, following a 7 p.m. public hearing at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. If approved, board members then would consider the option of extending all-day kindergarten.
Expanding full-day kindergarten has been considered a priority of board members and district administrators. In recent months, the idea has picked up support from visiting professionals and the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force, the group that has recommended closing Wakarusa Valley and then consolidating other elementary schools during the next three to five years.
“There will be huge benefits and gains for elementary students if the task force recommendation and long-term vision is carried out,” said Vanessa Sanburn, school board member. “This is part of it.”
The district could use an anticipated $143,322 in savings that would be generated by the closure of Wakarusa Valley — savings that have not been included in earlier estimates — to cover what would be the additional $132,500 in increased costs for teachers at Broken Arrow and Sunflower, the two schools that would be handling Wakarusa Valley’s displaced students next year.
The money would come from state funds designated for “at-risk” students and from savings on transportation through reduced-length bus routes. About 50 students living in the Easy Living Mobile Home Park, behind Target, would be attending Sunflower School next year instead of Wakarusa Valley, cutting $68,322 in bus expenses.
If enacted as proposed, only Sunset Hill, Deerfield, Quail Run and Langston Hughes schools would be limited to half-day kindergarten.