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SCHOOL BOARD PRESSED ON MIDDLE SCHOOL LANCASTER REPORTS RESULTS OF JANUARY QUESTIONNAIRE

About 50 Lancaster School District residents Monday turned out for a presentation on the results of a survey the district conducted in January.

The district sent out 1,000 questionnaires to gauge residents' perceptions on classroom space, reconstruction options, communication, programs and computer technology.

Several of those at Monday's session expressed disdain at the district's lack of action concerning middle school overcrowding.

Sharlene Buszka said she hopes to send her son to middle school next year. "I know you said you're not ready to discuss these issues, but I want to know when you will be ready," she said. "I want to make some decisions soon as to whether I'm going to send my child there."

She said she is concerned about overcrowding and contends that the district is moving too slow in resolving the situation. "We've known this was a problem for years," she argued. "I want to know what is going to be happening with my child."

"A lot of it is going to have to do with what the state is going to allow us to do," responded Board President Richard D'Arcy. He and other board members cited budget woes as the district's main concern right now.

However, teacher representative and Survey Committee member Raymond Taylor argued that the budget is just another excuse. "Since 1962, the middle school has been a problem. There is always a priority that kicks the middle school off as the main issue. I was here in 1976, making almost identical proposals to what you're making tonight. Once again, something else. There's always something that takes priority over the middle school. Let's take some people and do something about the middle school. Take the bull by the horns and do something now."

"We have the first tool for a problem that's existed for a long time," retorted D'Arcy. "Right now the budget is a critical factor, I think you know that."

"Even if we said tomorrow that we wanted to do something to expand it, it would take two years," added Trustee Edwin Lawniczak. Nothing happens overnight."

About half of those surveyed supported construction of a new middle school and renovation of Aurora Middle School. Another 32 percent favored building a larger middle school and finding other uses for Aurora Middle. About three quarters of the 421 respondents supported an addition rather that new construction if additional high school space is needed.

According to consultant Robert Heller, respondents felt strongly about neighborhood elementary schools but were neutral about the organizational structure after elementary school as long as students remain together. Residents also showed strong support for the use of computer technology. Eighty-six percent of respondents rated it as "highly important" in the district's plans for the future.

Other issues which residents felt were important are parent involvement, computer instruction and the number of graduates going on to college.

The Lancaster School District took a random sample from a list of residents used by the town several years ago. Approximately 60 percent of those returning the survey were between 30 and 50 years of age. Two-thirds had two or more children under the age of 20.

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