Lawrence school district’s boundary committee meeting canceled as possible school closures still loom

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Article updated at 10:44 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2:

A planned meeting of the Lawrence school district’s Boundary Advisory Committee has been canceled, meaning committee members may not have the opportunity to provide feedback on potential school closure scenarios before the school board’s crucial decisions in the coming weeks.

The BAC will not have another meeting until Feb. 16 — two days after the Feb. 14 deadline for school board members to decide whether they wish to hold public hearings on any school closure proposals.

In addition to other proposals, the district has been considering closing some school buildings in order to help offset a budget shortfall of between $3.2 and $3.85 million. 

At the end of the Jan. 26 BAC meeting, committee members expressed their desire to take some of the potential school closure scenarios off the table — particularly Scenario 1, which would close Broken Arrow, New York, Pinckney, and Woodlawn elementaries and repurpose Liberty Memorial Central Middle School. The district’s director of data and technology, Zach Conrad, told committee members he would send out a Google Form so they could vote on the scenarios, and he would present the results at the next week’s meeting. 

Neither district spokesperson Julie Boyle nor Conrad responded Tuesday to questions about why the BAC meeting was canceled, whether the vote was taken, or whether BAC members would have an opportunity to weigh in on the closure proposals before the board’s vote on Feb. 14. The meeting had been canceled before the district called a snow day

With no BAC meeting Wednesday, the next meeting regarding budget cuts will be the Budget and Program Evaluation Committee, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9. At that meeting, the BPEC will also complete an Equity Impact Analysis, Boyle said previously. In an initial poll, many BPEC members had indicated that they would support closing schools.

If school board members decide on Feb. 14 that they wish to hold public hearings on school closure proposals, those hearings will occur on or around March 9, according to a timeline from the superintendent. The board would need to make final decisions about any closures on April 11. Meetings are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

Update, 10:44 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2:

Boyle said in an email Wednesday morning, “The BAC meeting this week was canceled so staff could prepare for the Equity Impact Analysis of budget-saving proposals from 4-6:15 p.m. February 9. School board and district advisory committee members are being invited to participate. These groups include the Budget and Program Evaluation Committee & subcommittees, Equity Advisory Council, Parents of Color Advisory Team, Native American Student Services Parent Committee, Superintendent’s Advisory Council, District Site Council, District Student Equity Council, and the Lawrence Special Education Advisory Committee.”

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Emma Bascom (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from December 2021 through May 2022. Read more of her work for the Times here.

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