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Save Our Schools 497 group rallies ahead of Lawrence school board special meeting

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Supporters of keeping neighborhood schools open rallied outside of Lawrence school district offices Tuesday evening ahead of a special school board meeting.

“What do we want?” a call leader yelled.

“Neighborhood schools!” the crowd responded.

“When do we want them?”

“Forever!”

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Save Our Schools (SOS) 497 rallied before the school board members met to hear the current budget recommendation and were able to ask questions to consider approving it next week. Budget cuts, including the closures or “repurposing” of three schools, were on the agenda.

SOS formed last year in response to potential school closures for the 2022-23 year. Though the district did not follow through with closures ahead of this school year, SOS has now regrouped to push back against the likely closures of schools next year as part of the 2023-24 budget process.

“The rally provides an opportunity for the community to show support for Lawrence’s neighborhood schools and is in response to [an] anticipated proposal from the district to close two elementary schools and one middle school,” according to the SOS news release sent by a founder, Alicia Erickson, ahead of the rally. “The school board is slated to vote on Monday 2/27/23 whether it will proceed with budget cuts, including school closures, recommended [by] the district administration.”

Supporters of all ages gathered together with handmade signs, reading messages, like “Support teachers,” “Neighborhood schools anchor communities” and “Explore all options carefully before closing schools.” They chanted together, urging the district to consider alternatives before closing schools.

The Lawrence school board is scheduled to take a vote on final budget recommendations during its meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.

Read more from Tuesday’s meeting at this link.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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