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Archive for Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Schools task force to forward consolidation proposals to consultants

January 17, 2012

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A school consolidation advisory group picked what members believe are the five best scenarios for closing two to three elementary schools in Lawrence over the next couple of years.

After spending nearly three hours Monday night debating the pros and cons of the proposals, the Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Consolidation Working Group selected the options they wanted to send to consultants RSP & Associates Inc. for further study.  

A group of about 30 members has been working since early September to come up with a plan that would reduce a list of six elementary schools — Cordley, Hillcrest, Kennedy, New York, Pinckney and Sunset Hill — down to either three or four within two years, as directed by the school board.

The most comprehensive proposal being sent to RSP & Associates is a multi-layered approach that involves consolidating Kennedy and New York at a site on 15th Street and Haskell Avenue, close to the former East Heights School site, or at Kennedy. Hillcrest and Sunset Hill would also be consolidated at an expanded Sunset Hill site. And, Pinckney would be expanded and Prairie Park would take more students who speak English as a second language.

The group also offered a scaled-down version of that proposal, which would simply combine Kennedy and New York at the 15th Street and Haskell Avenue site and bring Hillcrest students to Sunset Hill.  

Another option would be to combine Hillcrest and Pinckney, which would require shutting down one of those schools and keeping the other one open.

And, the final two proposals would combine Cordley and New York, either by expanding and upgrading the Cordley site or by expanding the New York site.

With those proposals, the group wants the consultants to consider among other things class size, enrollment numbers in five years, how many of the students would be within a mile or half a mile walking distance, the socio-economic mix of the students, how many students would be displaced, the effect on students who speak English as a second language and the change on traffic patterns.

The group also ruled out some proposals.

For example, they decided that children shouldn’t have to travel over the Kansas River to attend Woodlawn.

They also decided not to send several proposals to the consultants. They were:

• To combine New York and Kennedy at the East Heights site, 1430 Haskell Ave. The site was once a elementary school and then an early childhood center. It currently houses Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.

• To combine Cordley and Kennedy at a new site southwest of 19th Street and Haskell Avenue or at a new site near 15th and Haskell Avenue.

• To expand Hillcrest and take additional students from Pinckney.

The group has until Feb. 15 to come up with a recommendation for the board.

Comments

Kookamooka 2 years, 11 months ago

Actually. I believe East Heights official closed the year before last and the early childhood center was moved to Kennedy. East Heights is now Boys and Girls Club. FACT CHECK.

ChristineMetz 2 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the information. We've updated the article.

Nikki May 2 years, 11 months ago

I was going to say the same about East Heights. Previous articles even note that, so it isn't a bad idea to read even your own paper's stories on this.

And while I'm here, just out of curiosity why do we not want children to cross the river? It's not like they are swimming to Woodlawn.

irnmadn88 2 years, 11 months ago

I would hazard to guess that since Pinckney is just over a mile away and NY is about 1.5 miles away from Woodlawn via surface streets, that a case could be made that any student living south of the river yet inside the no busing radius of Woodlawn would not be bused to school therefore those students could be seen as having to walk across the bridge if not transported by other means... the what-ifs of that are daunting. Just crossing the traffic through that area of 6th is bad enough let alone having the students on the bridge.

ChristineMetz 2 years, 11 months ago

Hi Nikki,

Thanks for the information. Even reporters forget when buildings change functions, especially when you are writing late at night and on a tight deadline. We've updated the article.

Thanks, Christine

toosense 2 years, 11 months ago

Proposals where not taken off the table wholesale. The discussion was about which proposals to send to RSP for detailed analysis. Some proposals were similar enough to be combined.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 11 months ago

• To combine New York and Cordley at the East Heights site, 1430 Haskell Ave. The site was once a elementary school and is now an early childhood center.

East Heights maintenance is still in the USD 497 budget. USD 497 still owns East Heights as no purchase has been authorized or revealed. Can USD 497 afford to give away taxpayer owned property?

No bond issue suggestion as yet...

Richard Heckler 2 years, 11 months ago

Voters and taxpayers are the primary stakeholders no matter what. Always let the voters decide how reckless or not we wish to be.

Before spending or asking for additional tax dollars to build or repair buildings USD 497 best wait until they know what exactly is transpiring in Topeka. Our buildings can be rehabilitated over a 3-4 year period on current property tax dollars which is a respectful approach.

USD 497 taxpayers need to think of nurturing our teachers which has not been adequately addressed in some years. Some kind of a pay increase method may need to be a matter for consideration should the legislature open those doors.

Always let the voters decide how reckless or not we wish to be.

We don't need two tax increases. If any tax increase presents itself it should be applied to salaries. This demonstrates the exercise of good judgment and/or common sense… can we say prudent?

Don't forget USD has more than $20 million USD 497 tax dollars on the table for the ill conceived PLAY sports project. That $20 million couldn’t have been spent at a worst time. Always let the voters decide how reckless or not we wish to be. Knowing how to nurture tax dollars is an art.

Voters and taxpayers are the primary stakeholders no matter what. That's right without we taxpayers there could be no tax dollar spending. USD 497 taxpayers do not condone the reckless decisions and spending of the past.

What makes we voting taxpayers the primary stakeholders in any new building/construction or rehab project? Each one of us spend thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars in this community without which USD 497 would be nothing. Yet we are cast aside under the facade that none of this is any of our business.

Always let the voters decide how reckless or not we wish to be. USD 497 taxpayers do not condone the reckless decisions and spending of the past.

aryastark1984 2 years, 11 months ago

As I look at some of these proposals, I can't help but think that they have way too many moving parts. RSPs own projections show unintended negative effects of closing Wakarusa that will need to be addressed for years to come. And that came from closing one small school. Are we going to learn from our mistakes or just keep making the same mistake over and over again.

AMC5546 2 years, 11 months ago

What "new site near 15th and Haskell Ave" (bullet no. 2)? Does anyone have more info on this? As anyone can see at the map link below, every corner of the intersection is taken. The NE corner appears to have an old school of some sort at it already. Are they thinking of rehab on that, or...?

irnmadn88 2 years, 11 months ago

My guess the new site is the SE corner of the intersection. There are several private properties there along Haskell but further east along 15th is the East Lawrence Rec Center and there is also the former Boys & Girls Club property and Edgewood Park to the south and south east.

From a footprint perspective, I can see that area being large enough for a school.

deec 2 years, 11 months ago

I think they posited buying/condemning the private homes at the corner.

FormerTiger 2 years, 11 months ago

Interesting that it wasn't reported that in the time since the working group received their charge, data that Doll said would inform all, has been shared by RSP that should change the whole focus of this group. What does this group do???? They voted to stick with the same flawed and ill-informed charge despite the fact that the data tells us exactly what was presumed over the past few years- the district will grow in the east and central sections of town and not west. Come on working group- I know many of you and you are far smarter than that! Don't play into the poor leadership of the district administration. And come on LJW, let's report something important and relevant for a change.

beaujackson 2 years, 11 months ago

Amazing how easy it is for "group-think" to tear down schools & build new ones all over town.

Of course, it's just YOUR money they'll be using, i.e., an increase in YOUR property taxes.

Naturally it will require an abundance of STUPID VOTERS to finance these pipe dreams.

The wasteful "gold plated" athletic facilities are causing many taxpayers to feel they were sold down the river like a bunch of "suckers". Which they are.

The same "suckers" voted another $20,000.000.00 for a slight library upgrade - and a 2-1/2 story parking lot (whatever is a 1/2 story?) .

Wait a minute - there may be enough stupid voters in Lawrence to pass whatever they dream up.

So, what's next?

bornon7 2 years, 11 months ago

Really? How juvenile! Go haunt a different topic with that CRAP!

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