Lawrence school board to hear update on work moving Kennedy Elementary students to nearby schools

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Kennedy Elementary School, 1605 Davis Road

As the Lawrence school district prepares to close an elementary school and turn it into an early-childhood facility, departing students have been able to check out the new schools they will be attending.

The Lawrence school board on Monday will hear an update about those visits and other facets of the district’s project to turn Kennedy Elementary School into an early-childhood education community center.

In April, the board approved a district plan to change the school from offering K-5 education for the purpose of saving the district more than $700,000. The district said the savings were needed as a response to a $1.2 million budget shortfall caused by significant enrollment declines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the plan, about 185 K-5 students who have attended Kennedy will move to neighboring schools — Cordley, New York and Prairie Park — in the fall.

According to a report provided in the board’s agenda, students toured their new school buildings, and Kennedy teachers met with their colleagues at the students’ new schools to discuss the students’ educational strengths and weaknesses.

The report also notes that the Boys and Girls Club has agreed to begin a morning program at Prairie Park next fall to provide time for parents to drop off new students from Kennedy who can no longer walk to their school.


In other business, the board will hear a report about the district’s student services for social, emotional and behavioral health. According to a memo sent to board members, each of the district’s schools features a mental health team that provides interventions and other services to students to help create a healthy school environment. The report aims to summarize the related programming and benefits.

The board will also consider again formally recognizing PAL-CWA, a union representing classified staff for the district. The board previously approved the union in September, when it represented the district’s paraeducators.

The union has grown to represent all classified staff, which is a category that includes custodians, office staff and other employees who aren’t licensed teachers. According to a memo to the board members, the union has reached majority support among all those employees and has requested recognition as the bargaining unit for all classified staff.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the new boardroom at the district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. The meeting is open to the public, but the district may limit attendance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who attend will be required to wear masks, have their temperature checked and physically distance from others. The district also encourages the public to watch the meeting on Midco channel 26 or online at youtube.com/USD497.

Those who want to speak during public comments but won’t attend the meeting can still do so. The district asks for comments to be sent by email to PatronCommentary@usd497.org. Comments can also be emailed to board members ahead of the meeting. Their contact information is available on the district’s website at usd497.org/Board.


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