Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.
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Once again, top USD 497 administrators employed the “park in the parking lot” approach to public input at a Jan. 18 meeting at Lawrence High School. Public questions and comments were buffered to sticky notes for concerned citizens to input (park) their voices on various boards (the parking lots), a place where these concerns will stay — parked.
LISTEN UP, BOARD. The top priorities for our community, as we’ve said before, will always be 1) Students; 2) Teachers; 3) Neighborhood preservation.
Many residents have children attending the same schools their parents and grandparents attended or worked in; historic schools like Woodlawn, Pinckney, Cordley, New York, Central; historic buildings in the heart of our town in areas that are still teeming with young families. These places with our children’s faces in them are part of our longest community legacy.
We would rather lose (expensive!) positions that do not directly work in or maintain these buildings or with our kids on a continual basis before losing our neighborhood schools or our champion teachers. We cannot see how the district proposal to close neighborhood schools, increase ideal class sizes, cut teacher plan time AND go to a four-day week equates to equitable student outcomes or invites great teachers to want to stay or work and Lawrence.
There’s a ton of great community action plans being generated and shared to solve the equation. The school board should worry about student needs, retaining teachers, preserving neighborhoods and rectifying the budget by improving the community environment and listen up for FREE.
— Erica Hunter (she/her), Lawrence
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More Community Voices:
”It is understandable that everybody has different priorities, but we can assume that public safety is high on almost everybody’s list. This is why your Lawrence Professional Firefighters have confidence in the three incumbent candidates,” the IAFF Local 1596 executive board writes in this column.