Archive for Tuesday, March 13, 2012

School board may subtract English as a Second Language program from closing equation

March 13, 2012


For some Lawrence school board members, the future of the district’s English as a Second Language program shouldn’t be tied to talks on consolidating its smallest elementary schools.

On Monday evening, the school board continued discussions on whether to reduce six elementary schools — New York, Cordley, Kennedy, Pinckney, Hillcrest and Sunset Hill — down to three or four in the next two years.

For six months, a working group had been tasked with studying that question and came back with two recommendations. One group recommended that all the schools stay open and the district support a bond issue. The other group believed that consolidation was a valid option but didn’t name which schools should close.

At Monday’s meeting, board members quizzed staff about the future of the ESL program and how the district plans to expand it.

Currently, the district has two cluster sites — Hillcrest and Cordley — where ESL students from other elementary schools are sent. It also has smaller neighborhood sites at Schwegler and Sunflower.

Board member Shannon Kimball wanted to know at what point schools should stop sending students to cluster sites and form their own ESL programs.

“The way you asked it isn’t entirely the way we approached it over time,” Chief Academic Officer Kim Bodensteiner told Kimball. “It has also been when is a cluster site getting too big in terms of space and balance.”

With Hillcrest, the largest ESL site, having 60 percent of its students in the ESL program, district staff said they are looking at ways to expand the program once again.

“Our ESL numbers are going to continue to grow, and so the likelihood of having cluster sites in place in the near to moderate future is going to be there,” Superintendent Rick Doll said, noting it was likely that the district would get another neighborhood site.

Board members also wanted to know whether the actual school buildings influenced where ESL programs were housed.

Beyond having small rooms for meeting with ESL students individually and plenty of curbsides for buses to drop off students, buildings don’t have to change that much.

That had school board President Mark Bradford questioning whether the ESL program should even be part of the discussion of whether to close schools.

“To me that ties more into budget hearing issues than it would the facilities question,” Bradford said.

l In other news, the school board accepted Bodensteiner’s resignation. Bodensteiner, who oversees all the teaching and learning functions of the school system, has accepted a position as executive director of teaching and learning in Bellevue, Neb., public schools.

Bodensteiner has spent 12 years in the district, seven as a principal for Cordley School and five as the chief academic officer.


buffalo63 3 years, 8 months ago

So they want to close two or three schools. What is the master plan for educating the students from these closed schools? They want to have a bond issue to build larger schools? Where/When will that happen? None of the current school sites (except maybe Sunset) are big enough for larger schools. Does Dr. Doll have plans for these schools to be built in two years? Or is he going to close schools to force a bond issue for larger schools?

Cogito_Ergo_Es 3 years, 8 months ago

Actually, Wakarusa Valley, (which the district still owns) sitting on 10 acres, has a site that is more than big enough to put a three-section school. Oh, wait...

aryastark1984 3 years, 8 months ago

So, what you are saying is that we should close these schools and spend 18million to build a couple of new schools? The only people who think it would be easy to close schools with rapidly growing populations are the ones who are not paying attention.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't think DIST is saying that at all. I believe the point is if the BOE is hell bent on closing schools, they should have fair criteria and it should make some sense (e.g. concerning overcrowding on the SW). See DISTs further comment below. If they would re-open Wakarusa that whole issue would be solved. Wakarusa should never have been closed in the first place.

aryastark1984 3 years, 8 months ago

I agree about Wakarusa. It was a stupid move that was made based on assumptions that the previous BOE did not bother to verify. Here is the thing about the current BOE. I don't think that the majority ARE "hellbent" to close schools. But, the previous BOE started that ball rolling and it has been difficult to stop, despite the fact that the assumptions driving closure have all proven false.

kuguardgrl13 3 years, 8 months ago

Woodlawn is not on the chopping block due to it's location in North Lawrence. They already closed Grant on that side of the river and having children cross the bridge is a waste of bus fuel and commuting time.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 3 years, 8 months ago

There doesn't seem to be a problem busing Wakarusa kids over a river and six miles away. They'd just bus the Woodlawn kids to their new school, no one would expect them to walk over the bridge. And, NO I'm not saying they should close Woodlawn. They should keep them all open. I'm just saying hypothetically, it's the same situation really.

Bobbi Walls 3 years, 8 months ago

Woodlawn won't close because of our location and the fact that our enrollment is steady and not declining. Would you want your 6 year old walking across the bridge everyday to get to another school? I don't think so, and I don't think that we are being protected because of one child who attends our school.

William Ed 3 years, 8 months ago

Wasn't it pointed out previously that Broken Arrow is currently or "to be" overcrowded? I don't believe that was the situation before the school board closed WVES. With all the shifting around, students going to SF and Schwegler that was caused by closing WVES the situation overall seriously deteriorated across the district. Is that a surprise?

Cogito_Ergo_Es 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes, Broken Arrow IS overcrowded now and predictions say it will be 32% OVER capacity in the next 4 years! Yes, the closing of Wakarusa caused that and at the same time closing it took away the relief valve Langston Hughes and Sunflower so desperately need. Clearly we should have kept all the schools open, but what isn't right is overlooking certain schools for closure because two board members have students attending there. Why is it we're still feeling the effects of the Morgan, Minder, Loveland agenda and they're no longer being held accountable for it? Time for a change people! Keep all of our schools open, reopen Waky, and Reverse the Elementary School Task Force Recommendation!

Synjyn Smythe 3 years, 8 months ago

Competent superintendent = no need for future task forces. Until Doll goes, you'll see continued confusion, requests for task forces, demands to close schools and build new ones. Doll's history is not hard to find, what's happening here is just as he did at his prior employment!

Cant_have_it_both_ways 3 years, 8 months ago

Not a word about a reduction on the administration side of the school system.

Synjyn Smythe 3 years, 8 months ago

Only reverse attrition based upon competence: the competent are leaving the ship of Doll.

patkindle 3 years, 8 months ago

I congratulate the school board for their forward thinking Please continue to close schools, selling them for a pittance To local realtors so they can make some big bucks Plus with the new schools built to replace them it Creates jobs for the local work force Makes sense to me

Cogito_Ergo_Es 3 years, 8 months ago

Apparently even Bodensteiner's had enough! Gone to join Harwood in Nebraska.

Synjyn Smythe 3 years, 8 months ago

Competent staff are fleeing the ship of Doll, leaving alot of deadwood!

toosense 3 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Kim Bodensteiner for explaining so well the function and value of the ESL cluster sites.

maudeandcecil 3 years, 8 months ago

Kim Bodensteiner has been an amazing educator & advocate for Lawrence's public school students. Thank you for your service. You will be missed.

kuguardgrl13 3 years, 8 months ago

Why are they still considering closing schools? I thought they decided that keeping all current schools open was a better option. Repair the buildings we have and rearrange boundaries or reopen Wakarusa to even out enrollment. So boundary rearranging may take some students away from the school they can walk to. Welcome to 21st century America. I took a bus to school for 13 years because of distance to school and lack of sidewalks.

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