Was this proposal approved?
Yes, the school board voted April 12, 2021, to repurpose Kennedy as an early childhood community center. K-4 students will transition to Cordley, Prairie Park, and New York schools for the 2021-2022 school year.
What is the proposal involving Kennedy Elementary School?
The district has proposed developing an early childhood community center at Kennedy and transitioning Kennedy K-5 students to neighboring schools with room to grow. The center would bring together the district's early childhood programs and community services for young children and their families at one location, Kennedy, 1605 Davis Road.
The district's Budget and Program Evaluation Committee supports the proposal. The Boundary Committee will recommend to the school board that Kennedy K-5 students attend Prairie Park, New York, and Cordley, beginning in the fall of 2021. The school board will consider the proposal April 12, 2021.
Why develop an early childhood center?
The district has had an early childhood educational readiness program since 1993. It began with private donations. A combination of state and community grants and private donations support the program now.
Kennedy has housed the early childhood educational readiness program since 2009. The program serves families meeting eligibility requirements, including families of children receiving special education and/or English as a Second Language services. Most families served qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. The district also offers services for children from birth to age five through Parents as Teachers and tiny-k Early Intervention. Head Start has had a community preschool classroom at Kennedy for several years.
An early childhood community center would expand district and community services available to families of young children at one location, Kennedy. Research shows that high quality preschool experiences benefit children’s cognitive and social development and their success in school and life. Still, many children enter kindergarten without the benefit of a high quality preschool experience.
Douglas County has recognized a gap in these services for local families and has included a focus on early childhood in the Douglas County Health Equity Report, which informed the Douglas County Health Plan.
The United Way Anti-Poverty Coalition's Plan has a focus on children and childcare. It includes Planned Strategy 1: Launch a pilot to provide high quality and affordable early care and education for birth-kindergarten Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (0-K BIPOC) children/families; and Planned Strategy 3: Develop a coordinated early care and education system to maximize childcare industry resource acquisition and efficiency.
What does the research say about early childhood education?
Researchers from five universities, led by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, analyzed 22 high-quality studies, which were conducted between 1960 and 2016. This meta-analysis found that children who attended high-quality early childhood education programs were less likely to be placed in special education, less likely to be retained in a grade, and more likely to graduate from high school than peers who didn’t attend such programs. The study is: Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium- and Long-Term Educational Outcomes
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) benefit-cost analysis examines, on an apples-to-apples basis, the monetary value of programs or policies to determine whether the benefits from the program exceed its costs. Its 2019 findings indicate early childhood programs have a 91% chance of benefits exceeding costs with the third highest total benefit in the PreK-12 results. Read the WSIPP State early childhood education programs: Universal results and State early childhood education programs: Low-income results for more information.
Early Childhood Education Research Brief:
Andrews, R.J., Jargowsky, P.A., & Kuhne, K. (2012). The effects of Texas's targeted pre-kindergarten program on academic performance. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Bania, N., Kay, N., Aos, S., & Pennucci, A. (2014). Outcome evaluation of Washington State’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (Document No. 14-12-2201). Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
Barnett, W.S., Frede, E.C., Mobasher, H., & Mohr, P. (1988). The efficacy of public preschool programs and the relationship of program quality to efficacy. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 10(1), 37–49.
Frede, E., Jung, K., Barnett, W. S., Lamy, C.E., & Figueras, A. (2007). The Abbott Preschool Program longitudinal effects study (APPLES): Interim report. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, National Institute for Early Education Research.
Hustedt, J.T., Barnett, W.S., Jung, K. & Thomas, J. (2007). The effects of the Arkansas Better Chance program on young children's school readiness. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, National Institute for Early Education Research.
Hustedt, J.T., Barnett, W.S., Jung, K., & Figueras-Daniel, A. (2009). Continued impacts of New Mexico pre-k on children's readiness for kindergarten: Results from the third year of implementation. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, National Institute for Early Education Research.
Lipsey, M.W., Hofer, K.G., Dong, N., Farran, D.C., & Bilbrey, C. (2013). Evaluation of the Tennessee voluntary prekindergarten program: End of pre-K results from the randomized control trial. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, Peabody Research Institute.
Wong, V.C., Cook, B., & Jung, K. (2008). An effectiveness-based evaluation of five state pre-kindergarten programs. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 27(1), 122-154.
Xiang, Z., & Schweinhart, L.J. (2002). Effects five years later: The Michigan School Readiness Program evaluation through age 10. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Educational Research Foundation.
What could be housed at an early childhood community center?
The district currently offers early childhood educational readiness and special education programs at Kennedy, including tiny-k Early Intervention. The district's Parents as Teachers program, serving families of children from birth to age 3, could be relocated to Kennedy.
A community Head Start classroom also is currently located at Kennedy.
Other possibilties include center-based medical and dental clinics and behavioral health, human services providers, early childhood partners professional development, early childhood provider incubator, and other community services that would positively impact early learners and their families, economic development, poverty, workforce, and social determinants of health.
Informal conversations about local needs have occurred among the early childhood community for many years. If the school board approves the proposal, more formal community collaboration would occur.
Kennedy's enrollment has dropped below 200 students and is projected to continue to decline. Its current K-5 building use is 46.3% of the building's capacity. Kennedy is located in proximity to other elementary schools that have room to grow.
The district's early childhood readiness and special education programs, including tiny-k Early Intervention, are already located at Kennedy. In addition, a community Head Start classroom is housed there.
Kennedy serves a high-needs neighborhood that could benefit from a community center providing early childhood programs and services to young children and their families.
The Kansas school finance formula is based on Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) of enrollment. Lawrence Public Schools experienced a 647.9 Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) enrollment decrease and a 307.4 weighting FTE decrease in the fall of 2020. Unaudited estimates reflect that this has produced a $1.8 million loss of funding in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.
The estimated permanent and ongoing loss of funding into fiscal year 2021-22 is $1.2 million. This estimate assumes that 50% of students that enrolled but did not attend this school year return in the fall of 2021. Unless student enrollment returns to 2019-2020 levels or higher, the 2022-2023 fiscal year could bring additional funding decreases.
The district's Budget & Program Evaluation Committee (BPEC) meets to consider budget additions, reductions, and reallocations. BPEC voted to support the development of an early childhood community center and transition Kennedy's K-5 students to neighboring schools with room to grow. The proposal is estimated to reduce 11.13 FTE employee positions (teacher, principal, administrative assistant, guidance counselor, learning coach, nurse, health office attendant, library media specialist, library media assistant) through attrition for a general operating savings of approximately $722,214.*
*Staff follow students. Current Kennedy staff will have the opportunity to be placed in other open positions in the district. The district calculates personnel savings estimates by using the average cost of the positions, including salary and employer costs.
How would the district decide which school Kennedy K-5 students attend?
The Boundary Committee discussed the Kennedy early childhood community center proposal and determined a recommendation for the school board that would transition Kennedy K-5 students to Prairie Park, New York, and Cordley, all schools with room to grow.
What about busing for Kennedy K-5 students?
The state of Kansas reimburses school districts for transportation of students living 2.5 miles from school. Transportation services are provided by First Student, which determines eligibility based on the most direct route from the student's home address to school.
What about the safety of Kennedy K-5 students walking to other schools?
Student and staff safety is the district's highest priority.
The city of Lawrence determines the need for and provides crossing guards and signalization. Lawrence students currently cross arterial streets, including 6th (Sunset Hill), 23rd (Schwegler), Massachusetts (Cordley), and Iowa (Hillcrest) with the assistance of crossing guards.
The Safe Routes to School program examines barriers to neighborhood walkability and helps to identify the safest routes to school. Read more about Safe Routes to School.
There are examples in our school communities of families taking turns leading a walking school bus or carpooling.
What about special education services for students?
Students receiving special education services have an Individualized Educational Plan or IEP. The IEP Team, which includes parents and guardians, determines accommodations based on the student's individual needs and IEP goals. Special education services are provided students regardless of school attendance center.
Early childhood special education programs are currently housed at Kennedy. They include tiny-k Early Intervention services.
How would class sections at Prairie Park be affected?
Initial estimates indicate the proposal would add four new class sections to Prairie Park Elementary, which has the capacity to add five class sections without chaging existing programs.
Prairie Park is not a Title I school at the present time. Determination of Title I status is being evaluated and will depend on the collection of additional data.
How would class sections at New York be affected?
Estimates indicate there would be no change in the number of class sections at New York Elementary. In addition, New York is a Title I school now and would remain a Title I school.
How would class sections at Cordley be affected?
Initial estimates indicate one new class section would be added at Cordley if it was determined that it qualifies as a Title I school. If Cordley remains a non-Title I school, no new class sections would be needed. Cordley has the capacity to add five class sections.
When will the school board consider the proposal?
The school board will consider the Kennedy early childhood community center proposal, including the Budget and Program Evaluation Committee's report, and the Boundary Committee's recommendation regarding the transition of Kennedy K-5 students to Prairie Park, New York, and Cordley, on Monday, April 12, 2021.
The board meeting begins with a 5 p.m. work session. Read the agenda online. Watch the meeting online or watch the meeting on Midco Channel 26. If you would like to share public comment during the meeting, email PatronCommentary@usd497.org prior to 5 p.m. Monday, April 12, 2021, to receive a link to join the meeting via Webex by video or phone.
Where can I find more resources about the proposal?
Read Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis' letter to Kennedy staff and families (PDF).
Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis' letter to Kennedy staff and families in Spanish (PDF).
Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis' letter to Kennedy staff and families in Korean (PDF).
Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis' letter to Kennedy staff and families in Arabic (PDF).
Review Dr. Lewis' slide presentation (PDF) shared during two virtual Kennedy Conversations.
Watch a recording of the March 30, 2021, Kennedy Conversation.
Watch Budget and Program Evaluation Committee meeting recordings.
Watch Boundary Committee meeting recordings.
Watch a recording of the April 7, 2021, Kennedy Conversation.
The district hosted a Thought Exchange to gather additional input about the proposal. Participation deadline: by 5 p.m. April 8, 2021.