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Kennedy Elementary School could close to grades K-5 next school year

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The Lawrence school district might close Kennedy Elementary School to kids older than 5 soon, instead using the facility as an early childhood community center. 

If the school board approves the proposal, “the district would plan to transition Kennedy K-5 students to neighboring schools where space is available, such as New York and Prairie Park Elementary Schools,” Superintendent Anthony Lewis wrote in a letter addressed to Kennedy staff and families last week. “Staff would follow students.”

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Lewis noted a need to increase early childhood education availability to fill a gap in the Lawrence-Douglas County area. He also pointed to declining enrollment numbers at the school.

“The district has experienced a sharp enrollment decline this year resulting in a significant budget shortfall that will affect our finances for at least the next three years,” Lewis wrote. “… Kennedy’s K-5 enrollment has dropped below 200 students with projections for another decline next fall.”

The district will host two virtual “Kennedy Conversations” soon — one from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, and one from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 7.

According to the letter from Lewis, the board will consider the proposal at its meeting on April 12.

“We celebrate that our staff and families love their schools. We understand that any changes in school attendance centers are emotional and difficult changes,” Lewis wrote. “If the board approves this proposal for the 2021-2022 school year, we will immediately begin planning with our staff how best to support Kennedy K-5 students and families during the transition.”

Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Note: Story updated to add fresh photo at 11:38 p.m. Monday, March 22

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