My Thoughts on Lapham-Marquette

Over the past week, I have had several heartfelt e-mails from residents of the Lapham-Marquette neighborhood, urging me and other board members to oppose closing Lapham School. To put the e-mails in context, let us all remember that there are MANY proposals out there because EVERYTHING is on the table thanks to the $10 million structural deficit that the district faces.
For those of you who are unaware of my background, let me share with you that I have lived in the Marquette neighborhood since 1978, first as a renter and now as a home owner. My membership # at Willy St. is 10. Yes, ten. My roots go deep, as does my memory of community history. After all, I chose to live there when we had to step over drunks to get to the laundromat, and anyone could get a good dose of grease and indigestion at Dolly’s. I moved in when there were crack houses around the corner, and stayed because it was a values choice.
So where do I stand on “don’t close Lapham?” This is the gist of what I am replying to the e-mails:
I have lived in the Marquette neighborhood since 1978 and was engaged in the vigorous and divisive neighborhood debate over whether to reopen Lapham. Having opposed reopening Lapham at the time because the optimistic demographic projections seemed unsupportable, and having predicted that we would end up at exactly this point, I am now disinterested in closing it so that we can debate the issue once more in ten years. I would note that the majority of children in Lapham are still being bused from the Marquette side of the isthmus; after all these years, the school as family magnet argument has not lived up to predictions.
That said, there is a brutal bugetary reality before the district. $10 million in structural – ongoing – deficit is going to mean change for all of our schools. For that reason, I will be supporting a review of staffing levels for the current population and demographics. (I urge everyone considering the debate to look at the demographics for ALL of our elementary schools and understand that as a progressive I must be concerned for the schools that are functioning with high levels of poverty and inadequate staffing.)
I urge the people who are so passionate about not closing Lapham or combining the pair to be proactive about proposals that can make keeping the school open easier to support. This means finding ways to use the space for some segment of district administration or renting space to community groups or finding some other use that goes beyond the current structure. E.g., the district used to rent space to the Tenney Lapham nursery school.
This time around, it is going to take a lot more than rhetoric or advocacy for referenda to address the very real shortage of resources that we face.

4 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Lapham-Marquette”

  1. Lucy, when the MMSD remodeled Lapham a couple of years ago, a number of rooms were added for early childhood programs in the basement. Now much of the early childhood services are provided by traveling teachers who visit the children in the children’s homes. If Lapham stays open, as it should, those spaces might be available for rental to community groups.

  2. Ed,
    That’s the type of thing that I am thinking about. We need positive, proactive, creative ways of thinking about the facilities as a community asset. I remember the early days, when the Tenny-Lapham Nursery School was in Lapham, and also when MSCR had offices in the basement.
    I don’t have any answers, but if there ever was a time to color outside the lines this would be it!

  3. My kids went to Tenney Lapham Nursey School when it was at Lapham more than 25 years ago. Yikes, I’m old!

  4. How about moving the students from Wright to Lampham, and the overflow from Leopold and Chavez to the Wright building.
    I can think of many schools that could close to save money. Jefferson is projected to be down another 20 students. We are below 500. Spring Harbor is a luxury at this time too.
    While I love the idea of Spring Harbor, I unfortunately see we may need to eliminate wonderful programs that accomodate a few to help the whole.

Comments are closed.