Archive for Sunday, February 19, 2012

School consolidation group split on recommendation

February 19, 2012


The school district should push for a bond that would keep all 14 Lawrence elementary schools open, cover deferred maintenance projects, eliminate portable classrooms and add capacity for full-day kindergarten.

That’s the heart of the recommendation coming out of half of the members of a working group that has been asked to find a way to close the district’s smallest elementary schools.

For more than five months, nearly 30 members of the Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Consolidation Working Group have debated the best way to do that. Their charge from the school board was 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.

That recommendation is due by the end of the week. With a deadline approaching and no consensus looming, at the last meeting the working group split into two philosophically different camps.

One group maintains that consolidation is needed but would not specifically name what schools should close. That group, which is comprised of Pinckney, Kennedy and Sunset Hill representatives, will discuss their recommendation on how to close schools tonight.

The other group, which met Saturday afternoon, has concluded that the district will never gain the support it needs to issue a bond if schools are closed. The group, which is formed of New York, Hillcrest and Cordley representatives, believes that two of the driving forces for school closures — a severe budget crunch and declining enrollment — have changed.

Here are some of the group’s major points:

• The district had $1 million remaining in its operational funds at the end of each of the past two fiscal years.

• Elementary enrollment is growing at double the previously expected rate with the growth concentrated in and around the schools considered for consolidation.

• Elementary schools no longer have large amounts of unused capacity.

• Closing any school would require more building, which would cost more than upgrading the schools up for consolidation.

• If consolidations were to occur, boundaries would change across the entire district.

The group also questioned how much money the district would really save by closing schools because much of the money would go toward mitigating the effect it would have on the schools’ at-risk students.

“Bottom line is we think the costs and harms pretty significantly outweigh the benefits we can get from closing schools,” Cordley parent Chuck Epp said.

Those costs included boundary changes, increase in class sizes, harm to at-risk students, disruption of the English as Second Language program and effect on historic neighborhoods.

The entire working group will meet for one last time Monday when two recommendations will be discussed. Those recommendations will then be presented to the school board Feb. 27.


not_holroyd 2 years, 1 month ago

Tsk, tsk, Wilbur.

Pay your delinquent property taxes and all these problems disappear. We know you can afford them, or you would not have your second luxury out-of-state home.


Mike Myers 2 years, 1 month ago

I love that Wilbur likes to reference pigs. He must be an E.B. White fan. Can't be all bad.


4getabouit 2 years, 1 month ago

Somebody slip old OE Wilbur a sedative.


Kookamooka 2 years, 1 month ago

Obviously One Eye Wilbur is childless and alone.


oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

Told you so! Go for broke Lawrence. Vote all the money you can so the district can squander it. The kids will not be screwed. That is nonsense. "Don't know MJ Browne but that mentality of "its for the kids" is getting old. How about the parents give up some dinners at McDs and Long Johns and the fat kids start walking to school and give up their cell phones and luxuries instead of the taxpayers at large continuing to feed the gluttomous pig USD 497.

Go ahead and vote another bond issue in, then the teachers will complain that they are broke, then the city and county employees will want more to pay the increase in property taxes. And of course all the while the city will continue to drive off employers for the private sector. but then most of Lawrence does not know about working for a private employer as the majority of the town is publicly employed and do not even appreciate that they have a job.

Please Kookamooka, dont' cry "its for the kids". It is for the architects, it's for the local construction business and what about the next consultant to be hired to "sell" the bond issue to public. That's a good one. The citizenry of Lawrence is so dumb they have to be sold on something/ hahahahah..that's a good one. Welcome to Lawrence the city of over educated dummies about to be fleeced by an outside consultant.

Another bond issue destined to drive up the taxes more with no beneficial improvent to the educational system nor to the buildings which year after year for some reason are not maintained.


Kookamooka 2 years, 1 month ago

What about allowing people to vote for two different bonds? One for a new megamentary that would destroy historic neighborhoods and one for deferred maintenance and the status quo. Whichever one passes, is the one the citizens of Lawrence prefer. If it's voted down, the kids are screwed. Don't vote it down.


IBike100 2 years, 1 month ago

The elementary schools have given rooms vacated by the 6th graders to the Boys and Girls Club- thus elemementary overcrowding. No bond issue is necessary. The next thing the "task force" will recommend will be a third high school. All of these needs could have easily been taken care of with the money illspent on highschool sports facilities. NO BOND!!!!


KS 2 years, 1 month ago

It always amazes me that these folks have "deferred maintenance". What the heck have they been doing with the money they have had over the years? Obvioulsy not spending it correctly.


Richard Heckler 2 years, 1 month ago

The model that spokesperson Chuck Epp put forth sounds appropriate thus far...

Although I would try to avoid a bond issue and work with current budget dollars that the personal property taxes provide. Work on a 3-4 year plan.


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