Public hearings on two Lawrence elementary school closures scheduled

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Post updated at 3:15 p.m. Monday, March 6:

The Lawrence school district announced Monday morning it will hold public hearings at the end of March on the possible closures of Broken Arrow and Pinckney elementary schools.

As part of the district’s goal to make $9 million in cuts to the 2023-24 budget, the Lawrence school board after midnight on Feb. 28 voted to hold public hearings for two of the three recommended elementary schools up for closures, Woodlawn Elementary being voted off the table. Under state law, school districts must schedule hearings ahead of possible school closures to allow community members the chance to weigh in on decisions. 

The public hearings will be on Saturday, March 25 at each school:
Broken Arrow: 10 a.m. to noon in the school’s gymnasium, 2704 Louisiana St.
Pinckney: 2 to 4 p.m. in the school’s gymnasium, 810 W. Sixth St.

The public is invited to attend and share their thoughts on district administrators’ recommendation to close both buildings next year.

The school board president, Shannon Kimball, will lead the hearings and the board will hear public comment, district spokesperson Julie Boyle said via email Monday.

According to a newsletter sent to Broken Arrow families, there will be no livestream or virtual public comment because of technology limitations.

Boyle said she would follow up to address questions we asked about whether there will be a livestream or recordings of the hearings, whether child care will be available, and whether the hearings will be limited to two hours.

There will not be any online surveys or forms to submit public comment after the hearings, Boyle said. However, she said the school board meeting on Monday, March 27, will include public comment as well.

The district has not yet published legal notices of the hearings, though it announced the times on Monday. By law, notices of public hearings “shall include the reasons for the proposed closing, the name of any affected building and the name of any school building to which the involved pupils shall be reassigned.”

Larry Englebrick, interim chief operations officer, said during the board’s Feb. 27 meeting that the district did not have any idea where kids from schools that close would transfer. The district’s Boundary Advisory Committee on Wednesday determined five possible schools where students of Broken Arrow or Pinckney could transfer, and they will soon make a recommendation to the administration.

Any new boundaries will be made available for the public hearings.

The district must publish public notices of the hearings twice during two consecutive weeks, with the second publication occurring no later than 10 days before the hearing date. To be ready for hearings on March 25, the district must publish a second notice by March 15.

The BAC has agreed to look at all the district’s boundary lines more comprehensively. It is possible that, with boundary shifts, students attending any school may end up in a different attendance area next year.

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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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