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School Closing Council - Quail Run: The New Target

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The School Board has yet to decide if school closings should be one of the remedies for the expected budget shortfalls of future years. Regardless of that, the School Board and Administration has enlisted the District's Equity Council for the purpose of developing criteria to use in determining school closings. Here is a listing of members of the council, Email address, and body represented.

Last Name First Name EMail Representing
Butler Craig cb3403@peoplespc.com Community Chair
Merrill Marlene mmerrill@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Byers Robert rbyers@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Bodensteiner Kim kbodenst@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Fernandez William wfernand@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Avery Felton favery@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Arevalo Robert rjareval@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Williams David dawillia@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Minder Rich rminder@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Berard Ted tberard@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Doll Rick rdoll@usd497.org Lawrence Public Schools
Martin Penny penny.martin@srs.ks.gov Community
N/A N/A commandr2001@yahoo.com Community
Walker Bessie bessie.walker@srs.ks.gov Community
N/A N/A robbie@robbiederritt.com Community
Amison Willie whipper@ku.edu Community
Nieto Don dnieto@ku.edu Community
Douglas Diane ddouglas@ku.edu Community
Nunez Brenda brendajnunez@hotmail.com Community
The criteria so far identified, according to a March 3, 2010 Journal World article, is based upon a list created by the Administration. The list for each school includes how many students a building can hold; current enrollment; age of the building and its major renovations; special programs at the school; its proximity to other buildings; how far the building could expand and its square footage; and whether the school made Adequate Yearly Progress on its math and reading assessment tests. Since the stated objective of closing any school at this time is to save money; money that is needed to reduce the expected shortfall of future budgets, it would be difficult not to include that as part of the criteria. The District has provided School Closure Examples on their website. Their case studies included: Quail Run, Wakarusa, Sunset Hills, Hillcrest, Pinckney, Cordley, and New York. Since the studies were conducted the Board has seemed to move away from Hillcrest, New York, and Cordley for various reasons. Pinckney was never a real contender for closure since it provided the least savings. That leaves the board two in-town schools, from their original examples: Sunset Hill and Quail Run. Sunset Hill may have the upper hand in this particular battle of the Border War. Since money is the issue, it would only make sense to close Quail Run. Closing Quail Run, according to the District's analysis, would provide $75,000 more in savings than Sunset Hill. At this point every dollar counts. Unfortunately for Quail Run there may be other factors that will affect the decision. Based upon anecdotal evidence provided by Quail Run parents to the School Board during the final forum on Tuesday night, this school may be overcrowded and entering an under achievement period. One parent testified that there were so many children in her child's classroom that there was not even room for backpacks, books, or lunch boxes. Another parent emphasized the results of overcrowding, claiming a lice infestation that had been going on for over six weeks. Perhaps Board members Bradford and Merrill will investigate these allegations before it becomes a significant safety or health issue. A potential for declining key indicators was brought to the Board's attention by yet another mother who claimed that in one year her daughter had a significant drop in math; moving from the 94 percentile to 70 percentile. One can only hope that this is not indicative of the whole school; however, it is one of the criteria being studied by Administration. Another consideration for the Board is that Quail Run parents are the first group of parents to verbalize their willingness to accept the closing of a school in order to reduce the expected budget shortfall. Their leadership in this area is commendable and should be embraced by the School Board. It would be a lot easier for Board members, parents, children, and neighborhoods - if a school must be closed - to do so where parents have expressed a willingness to readily accept this remedy.

Comments

Clevercowgirl 5 years, 2 months ago

Probably not all the parents at QR want to close the school. However, since the QR parents speaking at the forum represented their school, and indeed the community, we should take them at their word. I can understand that headlice and substandard test scores would be an issue. Good bye QR, we shall miss you!

gr3sam 5 years, 2 months ago

Kudos to Quail Run! This took courage, foresight and an actual, heartfelt, concern for the best interests of those kids! The school board should recognize this, and commend those parents by taking them at their word. School closings suck but, here, students would actually recognize a benefit. Still, I don't see how anyone can justify spending $2M to keep Cordley open in the present economic environment. Cordley has been an asset, but maintenance has inexplicably been neglected. $2M to keep it open now would be fiscally irresponsible. Why not mothball Cordley until economic recovery allows for an expenditure of $2M+??

Kathy Gates 5 years, 2 months ago

Were we at the same forum? I never heard any parent from Quail Run say "please close Quail Run." Did they talk about problems encountered this year with class sizes of 30 and over? Yes. Did they want to make people aware of the consequences in raising elementary class sizes that high? Yes. You seem to be twisting words to get a desired effect.

Robert Kidder 5 years, 2 months ago

I was at the forum and presented a recap of the Wakarusa Valley Budget Group's position. Our position is that no elementary school should be closed as a remedy for a future expected budget shortfall. There are ample funds available in the contingency and unencumbered accounts to resolve the issue for the current and next school year. The board should put a moratorium on the closing of any school for 14 months so as to allow reasoned discussion, creation of valid criteria, and development of community support for any decision reached.

It was suggested to the School Board that there was a benefit in approving such a moratorium. Than all of the effort, time, energy, research, and passion that is currently going into the one issue of "Save our Schools" could be harnessed and redirected toward solving the real problem. I also stated that I believed that most of the parents currently engaged in this issue would support the board in this decision and help with the solution. This meant exactly what I said, we would not simply disappear because our issue had been won.

A Quail Run parent did state that the Board has their support if the Board decided to close schools. The parent was implying that the Board did not have my support unless they chose not to close schools. The fact is, they don't. Closing a school is a misdirected effort that history has proven will not reduce district costs. They do have my support in resolving the budget issue through many other viable alternatives.

There was a clear message from the Quail Run parents that it was acceptable to close neighborhood schools. I believe they are misinformed as to the results. This is due to the issue being incorrectly framed. It has been framed by some in the community as an either/or situation. Either close schools or raise the student-teacher ratio. The fact is it is not an either/or situation. Even with school closings the district would have to raise the ratio. Schools that are already crowded would then have more students and a higher student-teacher ratio.

This is why other means of reducing the budget must be used. The District is not prepared to make good decisions about closing any school. Facility utilization decisions should be completely separate of operational budget decisions. This is evidenced by the Districts failure to reduce operational costs after the last round of closings.

gr3sam 5 years, 2 months ago

My recollection mirrors Mr. Kidder's as to Monday night. Additionally, I have actually obtained and examined the school board's budget documents. There can be absolutely not doubt that there are ample funds available in the contingency and unencumbered accounts to resolve the issue for the current and next school year. The board should table as premature any talk of closing any school for the time being. What we need is real leadership. These people have no plan beyond the current school year. Our admin. is bulging at the seams, compared to school districts of similar size. We need sustainable cuts, starting with admin., that will see the school district through the next several years. The time for luxury within the walls of K-12 in Kansas are over folks, it is time to face this stark realization!! Our legislature will not increase taxes to fund schools. Even if they did, it'd wind up elsewhere, as our State's lottery experience shows. Eliminate luxury. Re-examine what is a necessity, and remove any luxury posing as a necessity. Packing 40 kids into a grade school class is absurd when there are HS classes with less than 10 students. All of such class should be immediately eliminated! Overlapping responsibilities should be eliminated! The rainy day fund should be accessed immediately! It is raining!!!!

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