Public Comment on Avondale East Elementary

JANUARY 17, 2012
(Response of school board members and school administrators is in italics)

• If a music theme is adopted, does that mean we do not have to use the equipment we have used for over 20 years? That will be a priority for our signature schools.

• It appears the decision to close AE has already been made; people don’t have a say. It has actually been a long process, taking comments and concerns into consideration. We will put it all together to make the best possible educational opportunity for the kids.

• Have you expanded home economics or shop classes? They are combined into other programs based on progression in how those programs have changed over the decades. The district wants to expand on career pathways within the district.

• People make multiple occupational changes over the course of careers. Need to consider if all of our high schools need to be focused on college bound.

• How many improvements have been made in this building (Avondale East) over the years? The only improvements have been to maintain. Not to expand technology or improve the building.

Career pathways that start in the elementary schools are planned. For example the career pathway partnerships with Stormont Vail and Weststar. Currently doing career exploration with students. The robotics program has been designed and implemented at Highland Park. These are good examples of the changes.

• Are you planning on intertwining the nursing program with a college program? Yes, Washburn Tech is interested and is working with us. Anticipate a stronger partnership with Washburn Tech going forward.

• We live in the neighborhood and own a home. Why can’t you talk about what the plans are before you close Avondale East? The actual decision to close the building has not been decided, so, if we do vote to close, we will meet to discuss repurposing.

• Where do you stand on closing this school? If I were to vote tonight, I would vote to close Avondale East. Cost to operate and maintain is high.

• Where will the kids go? Ross/Eisenhower.

• How will the kids get to Ross? Adams is busy and it is 2 mi away. Any student that lives a mile or more away will be able to ride the bus. We are concerned about student safety. Another consideration is how rich is the education program for kids.

• I don’t understand why things have happened the way they have. I found out about this last summer. Don’t read the paper or watch the news, don’t have school age children, so concerned about my neighbors that have children and about the neighborhood. Good education is everything. Would like to see a President of the US come from our neighborhood some day. The school is the hub of the neighborhood. It is possible the police department could set up a satellite? You don’t live here but we do. We are concerned and want to maintain the neighborhood. I am very involved in the neighborhood and concerned about it. Response: We will be mindful of the neighborhood. We do care about the neighborhood.

• The school on Western – Sumner. There is a lot of damage. The district let it go and it has not been maintained. We won’t let that happen again. This conversation will continue. We care about the neighborhood and what happens.

• Would prefer to have had the chance to address questions in the main meeting. This gives everyone an opportunity to have questions addressed.

• I wrote a letter to the editor about this. We are committed to the district and the neighborhood.

• Back when the lottery started they said the money would be used for schools and that didn’t happen. Not in favor of the lottery in the first place but they said we would never have to worry about the funding for our schools, yet the money never came to the schools. Politics should not have so much to do with schools. Providing education is written into the state constitution.

• Feel people have not used grants properly.

• I hope you care because the future of the neighborhood is in your hands.

• Could the building be use for vocational education? Would love to see something like that occur in this area. People could restore the abandon houses in the area.

• It would be wonderful to have the police here or another education program.

• Antioch Life Center took over one of the closed schools. Day care, afterschool, food program, cloths distribution. Kids were planting flowers.

• Hope you will work something out for this building if it has to close.

• Something like Corner Stone would be nice.

• This has been taking place since 2008 and this neighborhood did not know anything about it. No one talked to the NIA. I did a quorum request and asked if any administrator or board member came to the community and it was not done.

• I heard the comments about Ross. I used to work at Ross and we had no problem tearing down the lunch room for PE. No problem conducting PE. To say you are tearing down the building because of PE is ridiculous.

• To take the statistics about falling numbers as a reason to close the building is not fair. Took the 5th graders and moved them to Ross then used the reduced enrollment is unfair.

• When we got done with that presentation I think the board has already made up its mind. You better make sure you understand the statutes on making up your mind prior to getting public input. This is the biggest NIA in the area and no one bothered to talk to them. Why was that not done? You talked about collaboration but you didn’t do it.

• This school serves a big need for these kids. Can walk to school. Test scores are going up. Why shut down a school that is improving? Because they can progress faster. Research shows PreK-8 programs help improve results. I don’t think it will change things.

• Need more support, experienced @ Ross to be able to understand community resources

• Experienced counselors need to come to Ross

• At-Risk students thrive off relationships

• Keep the community involved in schools, so families can feel secure and have relationships.

• Community in Schools – transition with students

• Say we put dollars into school, but taking staff away at Avondale East

• Need teachers working with At-Risk students as students transition to Ross

• IEP Students without support at Avondale East (now moving –transition to Ross)
Make sure support is available for IEP’s.

• Administrator Staffing…consideration
• Reasons why USD501 is choosing to close this school?

• Children will fall through the performance cracks.

• Economically challenged families will be those most impacted by this closure.

• Use the school for before and after school programs, parent engagement programs, summer programs, child care, recreation center type activities. Focus on low income families and “this” neighborhood (community/recreation center concept). Use of the building by Topeka Police department; expansion of the Parents as Teachers program(s) into this building.

• Has there been a decision made? No, not without a community meeting. We have spent time studying to be sure what we recommend makes sense.

• Will Avondale East students stay together? Advantage, getting to know the children, planning activities, know enrollment numbers.

• What are the staffing levels? More services, full-time staff. There would be a full-time media tech, nurse, librarian, etc. so children have full services.

• It would be nice if neighborhood schools had a dual language program – that would keep children in their home schools.

• How will a sick child be transported home during the school day? Other schools have the same problem and it is a decision made by the school principal. There are several ways it could be handled.

• How much will it cost to transport Avondale East students to Ross?
It would add one additional bus at a cost of approximately $30,000.

Because of its’ proximity to Ross Elementary and the co-campus possibilities with Eisenhower Middle School.

We will continue to invest in academics, while infusing extra-curricular activities (such as music) in order to engage students in school. There would be more resources available to the student.

• Concerned that after-school programs will leave a gap in the neighborhood.
Programs will be consolidated and more robust programs offered.

The Board of Education will discuss the issue at their January 19th meeting and a public hearing could be held sometime after that.

• Parents won’t be able to go to meetings at Ross.

• Understand transportation for students, but how about the parents? They would have to ride the bus all the way downtown to get to Ross.

• I don’t have a car. This is going to hurt the neighborhood. The money you are putting in there could be used here. What is this going to do for the kids?

• Have we looked at having a police station here and keeping the school open?

• What about the kids? What about the neighborhood, the parents?

• What did you consider about the con involving students? Concern about music being the theme at Ross? Why not dual language or something that will help the kids excel? Music is not that program that will prepare kids for the future.

• Were parents invited to give input on music theme for Ross?

• East Topeka has reputation. To make music the center piece, it is misguided. Music is a great tool for learning, but to make it the central issue is moving us away from the basic education of our kids.

• You are familiar with Brown. They don’t understand the dynamics of this thing. How many kids are being bused on the west side? Now, we are talking about more busing. How much time will kids spend on the bus? You take kids out of school of 200 where they have been ….. to a much larger school.

• Where can I find information about who you have talked to about moving into Avondale East?

• There are several things this building could be used for.

• Ross has a gym and cafeteria, when would the time line for this new addition be completed?

• I have concerns with the police setting up in the school. We have been trying to change the perception of the area. Are these things being thought through?

• If repurpose school with sub –station, we should pair it with sub-station on the west side.

• Recommendations I would make, some kind of diversity. Maybe some kind of fun activity to ease transition and buy in to the music program and to help parents understand there will be some help with transportation.


  1. how sad, how wrong

  2. please don't close my school. i like it there

  3. What about the kids? What about the neighborhood, the parents?

  4. i went there for 5th grade and i got alot more help one on one with the teacher and made alot better grades plus they helped me understand things better than i ever did at Williams Magnet School!!! and im in highschool making really good grades!!

  5. I do not like this school.

  6. This was discussed between USD 501 and the community...AND THE COMMUNITY...for more than two years. It's not the district's responsibility to try to make you people act like parents.

    If your child's education is "inconvenient" for you, too bad. Maybe you should have reconsidered having children (and at taxpayer expense, I'm sure).

    Hey, you could always homeschool your kid. Oh, wait...that means you'd actually have to DO something. Oh well, I'm sure Ross Elementary will hand out freebies on occasion, just like Avondale East has done. So it looks like you'll still have a reason to pretend to care about your kids.

  7. What about the kids? What about the community, the parents?


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