Members of the Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Consolidation Working Group intend to discuss a variety of characteristics, qualities and values to be considered in their deliberations during the next four months.
Among their first decisions to be made Monday: how to make decisions.
Group members, led by their hired facilitators, are scheduled to define the consensus process they plan to follow as they compile a plan for consolidating a list of six elementary schools into either three or four during the next two to three years. The group meets from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at Lawrence school district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.
The consolidation plan is scheduled to be finished in January, then go to the Lawrence school board for consideration. The report could serve as a foundation for proposing a bond issue that would finance upgrades and expansions at the Lawrence school district’s remaining schools and possibly enable construction of a new school or schools to accommodate consolidation-spurred shifts in enrollment.
None of that can happen, of course, until the 27 members of the working group agree on how to agree. During a meeting Sept. 7, members endorsed discussing the concept during Monday’s meeting; one member suggested adopting a “percentage-vote consensus model,” so that people would know how much support each particular conclusion had secured.
Group members know they have plenty of issues to be grappling with during the coming months and understand that their conclusions could help guide elected officials in making significant decisions about the future of elementary schools.
Six elementary schools have been identified as candidates for consolidation: Cordley, Hillcrest, Kennedy, New York, Pinckney and Sunset Hill. The working group’s members are drawn from the communities of those schools and representatives of Woodlawn School, which is among schools whose operations would be expected to be affected by consolidation.
“We need to do our homework … and be ready to have a candid and open discussion,” said Lois Orth-Lopes, a working group member and teacher at Cordley School, during the Sept. 7 meeting.