NEW YORK ELEMENTARY DISCUSSION
Here’s a little something about New York Elementary from neighbor and new board member, Julianna Patterson. written on December 15th, 2021 –
Speculation regarding the future of New York Elementary School (located at 936 New York Street) has reemerged, blowing through the city as if carried by the unprecedented December winds wreaking havoc across the midwest and our local neighborhoods this week. While no concrete decisions have been made as to whether New York Elementary will transition into a Montessori School or close permanently, discussions surrounding low enrollment rates, lack of substitute teachers, and the budget deficit Lawrence Public School District is experiencing at this time have already begun to create ripples throughout the community.
Just last week, students at Lawrence High School and Lawrence Free State High School staged demonstrations to protest recommendations made by the school board to cut funding for the high school gymnastics program district wide. Now, talks about school closures and additional ways of reducing costs and increasing enrollment particularly in East Lawrence have resurfaced, raising questions about equity, accessibility, and the increasing opportunity gap for those furthest away from educational justice.
As alluded to above, recommendations to close New York Elementary and other East Lawrence Schools is not a new idea. The East Lawrence Neighborhood Association (ELNA) Board and members of our community have been fighting against the closure of schools in East Lawrence for decades. From East Heights to Kennedy Elementary School (now Kennedy Early Learning Center), the slow and methodical eradication of accessible and quality education for youth and families in East Lawrence continues to persist and we are calling upon our local community members to join the conversation, shedding light on the real life impacts of losing schools in our neighborhoods and what it means to have representation for the students and families that will be directly impacted by these decisions in the room.
If you attended or have children who currently attend New York Elementary School, Pinckney Elementary School, Cordley Elementary School, or Woodlawn Elementary School, these are important conversations to take part in as these are the schools with the lowest enrollment rates reflected in recent data introduced at the Lawrence Public Schools Board Education Meeting that took place November 29th, 2021. We are asking for community support and have compiled resources below to provide context on what’s going on within the Lawrence Public School District as well as upcoming opportunities for you to become involved in current discourse,
- Background on New York Elementary’s potential transition to Montessori Education, https://www2.ljworld.com/news/schools/2021/dec/15/lawrence-school-district-confirms-exploration-of-closing-new-york-elementary-to-become-montessori-school/
- The school board’s Budget and Program Evaluation Committee met from 4-5:30 p.m. December 15 at 110 McDonald Drive. The public was welcome to attend. Since this was a committee meeting, it did not include public comment. The meeting format included small group discussions so it was not conducive to live streaming. Meeting materials are available at www.usd497.org/BPEC .
- Board President Erica Hill has called a Special Meeting of the board for 6 p.m. Monday, December 20, at 110 McDonald Drive. The purpose of the meeting is a board budget work session. The public may attend or watch a livestream at www.usd497.org/Webstream. Special meetings do not include public comment.
We hope to hear from our community members as we work to preserve the history, integrity and accessibility of our educational institutions in East Lawrence. We are ready to uplift the voices and lived experiences of those who will be directly impacted by the loss of yet another school on the East side and thank you for helping us in our work to maintain a strong and welcoming community!
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