To the editor:
USD 453 recently voted to hold a special election to vote on a $36.76 million school bond proposal. The stated purpose of the bond is to:
- Close Lawson Elementary and convert it to a prekindergarten and kindergarten center.
- Address overcrowding at Warren Middle School and Henry Leavenworth Elementary.
- Build an addition to Warren to accommodate fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades, raising the student population to more than 1,000 in a district with 3,693 total students.
- Renovate other buildings. The Leavenworth Times’ article reporting on the bond issue did not mention a list of specific changes.
Every problem the school bond is designed to fix can be solved by other means, without raising taxes.
Keep Lawson open as an elementary school (prekindergarten through fifth grade). During the 2008 bond campaign, parents were against grade-level centers because sending their children to multiple locations every day would unnecessarily complicate their lives. Presently, Lawson is under-used.
Henry Leavenworth Elementary is overcrowded. Our city is growing in a southwesterly direction. If the district re-distributes the prekindergarten through fifth-grade population, our four current elementary buildings can accommodate these students.
Overcrowding at Warren can be remedied by two administrative decisions.
Keep fifth-graders in the elementary buildings. Our four elementary buildings were designed and built to accommodate our 2008 prekindergarten through fifth-grade population. The population numbers have not changed significantly. Population location has shifted. Fifth-graders are not developmentally ready for a secondary school environment.
Send eighth-graders to Leavenworth High School. The 2008 bond modernized and expanded the LVHS building. It can accommodate another 200-300 students.
In summary, overcrowding in two Leavenworth schools can be fixed by redistributing students to underused facilities. Construct new attendance boundaries not more buildings. The miscellaneous renovations can be paid for from the district’s capital account.
Tom G. Sterner is a retired Army officer and retired Leavenworth business owner.