The Lawrence school board agreed to move forward with more than $750,000 worth of building improvements for elementary schools that had been earmarked for potential closure just a few months ago.
On Monday night, the board accepted a $3.65 million capital improvement plan, with many of the projects slated to begin this summer.
For the past six months, a community working group has been studying ways to consolidate six elementary schools — New York, Cordley, Kennedy, Pinckney, Sunset Hill and Hillcrest — down to three or four. The working group’s two recommendations — one that advised not closing any schools and another that maintained consolidating schools was a viable option but didn’t say which ones should close — were finalized Thursday.
Last year as talks of closing elementary schools were under way, the board pulled funding to fix Kennedy’s roof. That $600,000 expense was added back into the capital improvement plan the board approved Monday night. Also on the list were $20,000 for replacing flooring and another $30,000 for repairing pavement at Pinckney, $80,000 for replacing rooftop HVAC units at Sunset Hill and $25,000 for new cafeteria tables at Hillcrest.
Keeping funding for smaller elementary schools in the capital improvement plan was about the only indication school board members gave Monday night on where they stood on closing elementary schools.
Earlier in the evening, the board formally accepted the recommendations that came from the working groups, but they said little about the documents. Instead, two study sessions were set up.
The first study session, slated for 5:30 p.m. next Monday, would give board members a chance to ask questions about the recommendations and process. The second meeting, set for 4:30 p.m. March 12, would allow for the board to discuss the recommendations.
The topic isn’t likely to come to a regular board meeting, where votes can be cast, until April.
Board President Mark Bradford expressed appreciation for the efforts of the working group, even if members didn’t come with one cohesive plan.
“It will make us a better district in the long run. We are still at the beginning of a lot of positive things to come in the future,” Bradford said.