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patterte (Dawn Patterson)

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Comparison of large, small class sizes underscores importance of personalized interactions

I agree with all three points. Hillcrest accepts transfers it cannot fit because of the need to keep the ESL/non-ESL students within a balanced ratio (they shoot for no more than 60% ESL.) Soooo... if you moved out half of the ESL kids (who are being bused from all over, and could be effectively taken anywhere-- how about Prairie Park which is not even within 70% of capacity) to a new cluster, then not only would it remove the ESL students, but also reduce the number of non-ESL transfers that are taken to balance the ESL kids out.

Interesting point: only 40% of the kids at Hillcrest live "in district." Take away the ESL kids that are "in district" (and therefore still bused) then that number drops to less than 20%.

Class sizes matter-- but the space is THERE. Re-adjusting boundaries makes this possible.

March 21, 2012 at 9:10 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

No closings

Just to point out-- there were only proposals to build one new school. The others were expansions packaged with much-needed renovations.

February 16, 2012 at 8:23 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

School consolidation working group won’t pursue specific closings

Honestly, I don't think there is a "right" answer. Each side has points of value. Each side is passionate and emphatic in their reasoning. And, ultimately, I believe that each person *thinks* they are right, and trying to do what they believe is best.

At base, the conversation is more about where we are going as a district. What are our priorities? What do we, as a community, value? When we favor preserving one thing, that necessarily means that something else becomes less of a priority. Limited resources mean making those decisions.

A great example-- four schools in Lawrence still do not have all day kindergarten. There are no additional monies in the offing-- state or otherwise. But the district has made all-day kindergarten a priority. If USD497 is to implement full day programs at the remaining four schools, that money has to be found from somewhere.

Maybe the community decides that neighborhood schools are high on that priority list, and if so, then that's something that we must act to preserve. But if so, we understand that other things must become less of a priority for our resources. I believe this is exactly the point Ms. Sanburn made early on when the group came to the board.

It will be interesting to see what the board does with the recommendations of the group, if anything.

February 14, 2012 at 7:22 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

School consolidation working group won’t pursue specific closings

This whole thing was written well before a single person was named to this committee. Three of the new board members were against closure, and it wouldn't have mattered what anyone said, or what data was presented. Apparently, the fourth vote has spoken. And that's all it takes. I don't blame the committee for being unwilling, as Ms. White put it, "to play the villain to their hero."

Both groups will recommend a bond. So, there is unity there. They just don't agree on whether or not is is efficacious to leave small schools open, losing a certain economy of scale. It is a difference of opinion, each with data and research on their side.

Not surprisingly, it is the three schools who are on the "close no schools" side who are most at risk: a non-ADA compliant dilapidated building that needs almost $2B in repairs, a school in which only 100 kids are in residence (in a neighborhood where there will be no growth because young families with kids cannot afford to live there), and a school that is one section in almost every grade.

February 14, 2012 at 5:47 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Firm maps out school consolidation group's proposals

They are on the block strictly because they are the smallest, with less than 200 kids. Running a school at that number is inefficient, and the site is small and not ideal to be built out for a larger number of students.

January 31, 2012 at 10:23 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Firm maps out school consolidation group's proposals

ESL is not about a building. There is no proposal to end ESL clusters, and the charge is for the change to occur in THREE TO FIVE years. If we can't move a cluster to a different physical structure, with three years of planning, without it staying successful, then I think that's a fault of the program (and maybe even the folks who are trying to protect it by refusing to believe it can not be successful in any other formation.)

To say that we are going to keep one school because we don't want to spread an award winning program (therefore multiplying the number of students who would come into contact with that program)-- and yet cram over 500 low SES kids into one school from NOT award winning schools.... well that just doesn't make any sense.

I think it's time for folks to end the protectionism and think about what's best for *all* kids involved.

January 31, 2012 at 10:19 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

School consolidation options due from task force next month

Right, those Kennedy reps who quit are totally uninvested, what with one having MAJOR surgery and the other one having her house burn down.

Get real.

Kennedy, ironically, was the only school to volunteer to be closed, hoping that consolidation would bring the resources it should already have with the lowest test scores and the highest number of low-SES kids. Everyone else just peed around their territory talking about how wonderful they were and why they shouldn't be closed.

January 12, 2012 at 9:22 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

First Bell: Free State to auction old-time jerseys; Consolidation Working Group receives direction

The reason why consolidation is recommended is not capacity, but the fact that some of these schools are SMALL. So, if they are small, they cannot be a three-section school, the size that the district (and school board) feels is most efficient. It is true that many of the schools listed for consolidation are near capacity (or even over it) but the general feeling is that the student body/capacity is too small to be efficient.

Not offering an opinion either way, but I think it bears pointing out. This is not about full buildings, it is about perceived inefficiencies in scale.

January 10, 2012 at 2:07 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Four scenarios surface as possibilities for consolidating elementary schools

Lots of interesting reading here:
http://www.usd497.org/Consolidation/d...
(especially pages 1 and 16)

and here:
http://www.usd497.org/Consolidation/d...
(especially page 6)

If you have further questions about capacity, school make-up, etc.

November 29, 2011 at 10:22 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

First Bell: Consultants to help forecast enrollment, adjust boundaries; board member justifies consolidation efforts; advisers consider consensus possible

So, the answer is to close it and leave a large, empty hole of blight in the middle of an already struggling neighborhood, and leave those kids (many of whom are responsible for getting themselves to school without parental help) with an unwalkable solution? That makes no sense.

Kennedy is in better shape structurally than some other schools. For example, Cordley is not ADA compliant. Put the money in the Kennedy, it is not unfixable.

October 25, 2011 at 4:09 p.m. ( | suggest removal )