Thursday, April 7, 2011

Superintendent's School Closing Recommendations

Following several years of state funding cuts to education, Topeka Public Schools, USD 501 Superintendent, Dr. Kevin Singer, has presented to the Topeka Board of Education a proposal to close three elementary schools at the end of this school year, and to close an additional elementary school at the end of next school year.


“Despite already cutting more than ten million dollars from our budget – including more than $1 million in administrative cuts – we are still facing a $4.4 million budget deficit this next year,” said Singer. “After a year-long process of community listening tours and recommendations from our facilities closure committee, it is clear that our only remaining option is to close those buildings with higher costs and lower enrollments.


“Closing a school is always the last resort, but as state budget cuts take us back to 1999 funding levels, we’ve run out of options. As a product of Topeka Public Schools, I understand how important a building is to the identity of a neighborhood. However, I would rather close the doors to a building than close the doors of opportunity to our students. These changes will help us to manage continued state cuts and ensure that the quality of education in our district is not sacrificed,” said Singer.


The superintendent’s recommendations are as follows:


Phase One: Summer 2011



  • Close Quinton Heights at the end of 2010-2011 school year for an annual savings of $500,000.

    • Divide resident Quinton Heights students between Meadows, Williams, Stout, and HP Central.

    • Provide transportation to selected areas at an additional cost of $39,000.

  • Close Lundgren at the end of 2010-2011 school year for an annual savings of $500,000.

    • Transfer Lundgren fifth grade to Chase.

    • Transfer Lundgren K-4 to State Street.

    • Transfer State Street fifth grade to Chase.

    • Provide transportation to selected areas at no additional cost.

    • Add two double portable units to Chase-State Street site at a cost of $300,000 (Capital Outlay).

  • Close Linn at the end of 2010-2011 school year for an annual savings of $500,000.

    • Transfer Linn fifth grade to Eisenhower.

    • Transfer Linn K-4 to Avondale East.

    • Transfer Avondale East fifth grade to Eisenhower.

    • Provide transportation to selected areas at an additional cost of $39,000.

Phase Two: Fall 2011



  • Begin planning for two school additions at State Street-Chase and at Ross-Eisenhower.

  • Begin planning for curricular program changes at various sites.

Phase Three: 2012



  • Close Avondale East at the end of the 2011-2012 school year for an annual savings of $500,000.

    • Transfer Avondale East K-4 to Ross.

  • Initiate K-8 signature music performing arts program at Ross-Eisenhower.

  • Initiate K-8 signature theatre/dance program at State Street-Chase.

  • Initiate K-5 signature visual arts program at Quincy.

  • Continue K-5 science program at Williams Magnet.

  • Continue K-5 signature dual language programs at Whitson and Scott Magnet.

“Ultimately, the final decision to close schools will rest with the school board. As the board considers these recommendations, I urge the community to engage in a productive dialogue with their elected members,” said Singer.


The Topeka Board of Education will host a Community Conversation at each school closure site. Members of the community are encouraged to attend these meetings and discuss these recommendations with members of the board. The times and locations of these conversations are as follows:



  • April 14, 2011 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Community Conversation held at Quinton Heights Elementary 2331 SW Topeka Blvd

  • April 20, 2011 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Community Conversation held at Lundgren Elementary 1020 NE Forest Avenue

  • April 27, 2011 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Community Conversation held at Linn Elementary 200 SE 40th Street

  • FALL, 2012 TBD Community Conversation held at Avondale East Elementary 455 SE Golf Park Blvd.

Formal public testimony can also be presented at an official public hearing scheduled on Thursday, April 28th at 6:00 p.m. at the Burnett Administration Building, 624 SW 24th Street.


The soonest the Topeka Board of Education can take action on the superintendent’s proposal is at their board meeting on Thursday, May 5th, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. at the Burnett Administration Building. School board meetings are open to the public.