LAWRENCE, Kan. (WDAF) — Parents in Lawrence Monday hoped to send a message to the Board of Education by walking in their students’ shoes.
The “Walk in Their Shoes” event was held to show what organizers say are longer commutes and potential hazards that could come with closing schools for budget reasons.
Step by step, parents and students made the mile-and-a-half trek Monday from Schwegler Elementary to Broken Arrow Elementary.
“See, well, now I’m going to cry,” Broken Arrow parent Sheri Delk-Brodie said.
She got emotional thinking about the Lawrence School District’s looming decision to possibly close schools due to a seven-million-dollar budget shortfall. The Board of Education said the problem is the result of declining enrollment.
In possible district scenarios, Broken Arrow could close, and those students could move to Schwegler.
“We moved to the place where we live just so they can walk to school. They were so excited to walk to school every day, to and from school, and that’s just going to be a huge bummer for them,” Delk-Brodie said.
The group, Save Our Schools organized the event. It’s the same group that rallied outside the board’s meeting last Monday.
Right now, every child who lives within two-and-a-half miles of their school must provide their own transportation.
“Parents don’t always have a car, sometimes they already have left for work, and this is a really long walk for our kids,” said Shannon Berquist of Save Our Schools.
The school district does have Safe Routes, recommended paths walking students should take to avoid traffic.
“It does go through the neighborhoods, and a lot of kids I feel like are going to take the most direct route, or the fastest route,” Berquist said. “And for a lot of kids at Broken Arrow, that is going to be 23rd and Louisiana, which are both very busy streets.”
In a statement to WDAF-TV, the district emphasized that a final decision hasn’t been made.
It said in part: “If the school board chooses to move forward with boundary changes to consolidate schools, district staff would work with First Student, as well as city of Lawrence staff and our Safe Routes to School Partners to identify changes in bus routes, the safest routes to school for students who walk or bike, any safety concerns, and possible solutions.”
These parents will have more walks Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and hope board members will join.