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Archive for Tuesday, April 9, 1991

UNCERTAINTY DELAYS DISTRICT HIRING

April 9, 1991

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Although the Lawrence school district continues to list all teaching and administrative vacancies and even is interviewing candidates for those positions, administrators are not hiring any replacement staff until the district's budget picture is clearer.

That was the message from Lawrence School Supt. Dan Neuenswander at Monday's Lawrence school board meeting. He said the only positions the district would fill at this point are those required for government-mandated programs.

The level of state funding for school districts statewide remains uncertain in the final week of the Kansas Legislature's 1991 regular session.

Both the Senate and the House have passed a bill that would change the funding formula by which the state distributes money for public education. The bill would help districts, like Lawrence, that are in the second-largest enrollment category by eventually raising their per-pupil state funding to the level of schools in the largest enrollment category.

However, the amount of money to be placed in the new formula remains uncertain.

WITHOUT additional funding for the formula, the Lawrence school district could face up to an 18-mill increase in local property taxes to maintain programs at their current level. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

The House has passed a measure increasing income taxes by almost $120 million, and it has dedicated that money to local school districts to hold off increases in local property taxes. The Senate, however, has not yet acted on the measure.

"I continue to be optimistic that we'll have funds to operate at the level we are now," Neuenswander said, adding that local legislators are pushing strongly for additional funding for public education.

However, Neuenswander said, if the district does see a substantial reduction in its budget authority, the school board should consider cost-cutting on a school-by-school basis.

SCHOOL board member John Tacha said that even without additional state funding for education, the Lawrence school district would fare better than many others. While the local levy could rise 18 mills from the present 69.56 mills under that scenario, Tacha said he knew of one western Kansas district that would need a mill levy increase of 94 percent to maintain its present budget.

Meanwhile, the school board on Monday approved the renewed contracts of 34 administrators for the 1991-92 school year. The contracts for certified personnel, both tenured and nontenured, also were renewed for the 1991-92 school year.

Neuenswander has said that any reductions in personnel necessitated by cuts in state aid probably could be handled by normal attrition.

IN OTHER business Monday, the board:

Heard a report on "Teachers of Tomorrow" by teachers Paul Tinder, Ann Church, Lynne Renick and Dianna McKenzie. Pilot programs were established at South and Central junior high schools two years ago, and this year programs were established at West Junior High School and Lawrence High School.

Received an update from Robert Eales, director of vocational and continuing education, on a vocational study.

Approved the purchase of $32,800 worth of student furniture for various schools. The board also approved purchasing floor covering for Central Junior High School at a cost of $8,950. In addition, an expenditure of up to $400 was approved for placing a Mustang logo on the school's first floor.

The board voted to wait until a structural study of Central is completed to decide whether to purchase heating and cooling units for the school.

Voted to continue membership in the Kansas Association of School Boards. The district will pay $7,214 in 1991-92 membership dues.

Voted to reissue a mill levy of up to 0.5 mills to fund the district's Adult Basic Education Program. This year, 0.1485 mills were levied for the adult basic education program, and the district will not be allowed to bring in additional tax dollars for the program until a state-imposed budget lid on the special levy is lifted.

Set Sept. 6-7 as the dates for the board's goal-planning session.

Held an executive session on personnel.

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