With time running out before a deadline to make a recommendation to the board, a working group looking at consolidating schools in the Lawrence district decided to press ahead with its original charge on Monday and is still asking for more data.
Pinckney Revised Proposal ( .PDF )
The Lawrence school board has asked the Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Consolidation Working Group to recommend a way to reduce six elementary schools — Cordley, Hillcrest, Kennedy, New York, Pinckney and Sunset Hill — down to three or four within the next two years.
Superintendent Rick Doll told the group it may want to consider bringing back a recommendation to the board that would only close one school, rather than coming back with no direction at all.
“There have been a number of things that have changed since the charge was given to you,” Doll said. “I don’t sense that we’re on the edge of consensus.”
The group voted on whether it wanted to violate its charge from the board and bring forth a recommendation that would close “less than two” schools.
Twelve members of the group voted in favor, and 15 voted against that idea.
Having already seen three scenarios from educational consultant RSP, the group was scheduled to see four more.
Given the short time frame that RSP would have to generate the information, the group decided to prioritize its request.
Therefore, the group decided to ask RSP to focus on two proposals before considering the others.
Given that all four of the originally asked-for scenarios would only close one school, the group decided it wanted to see additional information on a proposal that would close two schools.
It asked RSP to study a scenario originally proposed by a group representing Pinckney School.
That proposal would consolidate Hillcrest and Sunset Hill at the Sunset Hill site. It would also merge Kennedy and New York either at or near 15th and Haskell streets or at the Kennedy site.
That proposal would also adjust the way English as a Second Language programs are distributed in the district. The complete proposal is available online at usd497.org/consolidation.
The group also asked RSP to prioritize one of its original four outstanding scenarios that would consolidate Hillcrest and Pinckney schools at Hillcrest.
At one point during the meeting, the group decided to hold a vote on whether it should give up and present no recommendation to the board at all. Only one member of the group — Josh Davis, representing New York — voted in favor of that path.
“People are going to come to decisions based on self-interest alone,” he said, adding he felt there was a lack of leadership on this issue from the school board and school superintendent.
But the group decided to press on, hoping to get more data before its deadline hit.
Doll told members of the group that though the official deadline was Feb. 15, they likely had time for two more meetings — on Feb. 13 and Feb. 20 — before the board would meet after the deadline on Feb. 27.
The group did not ask for an extension of time beyond that at its meeting Monday.