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.