The various committees and the USD 497 school board are looking at consolidating and closing schools, as part of a larger cost saving proposal, to save money due to a budget deficit for the currend 2021-2022 school year, as well as the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. The school district is legally obligated to balance the budget by June 30, 2022.
As part of the various options for finding savings, several scenarios that close one or multiple elementary and middle schools have been presented.
Historically, in the US school system, school consolidations and closings disproportionately affect low income communities who lack the resources of other communities to commute or choose other options. The closures scenarios either close or impact all five of Lawrence's Title 1 schools, as the sixth, Kennedy, was closed in 2021.
Lower numbers of students per class have shown to increase academic performance and social emotional growth.
Cost savings for school consolidations are often less in implementation that what is estimated during planning.
Beyond their educational and transformational value to the children in these communities, neighborhood schools are of historical and cultural significance.
This is a rushed decision that does not account for future growth that will require building expansion or a new building within the next 5 - 10 years.