Projections for the Lawrence school district's general operating budget for 1999-2000 are smaller than the current year's budget.
The Lawrence school district will be operating in the coming school year with a lower general fund budget than it currently has, a district official told board members Monday.
The upshot: Salaries likely won't be going up as much as teachers are hoping, unless some reallocations are made.
Assistant Supt. Craig Fiegel, who was attending his final board meeting, told members that the projected general fund budget for the district in the 1999-2000 school year would be $41.45 million, based on estimates from the state Board of Education.
That's down from the $41.56 million the district received for the 1998-1999 school year.
The reason, Fiegel explained, was the absence of one-time construction dollars given to the district last year from the state.
"We don't have any new projects, so we don't get any one-time (construction) dollars," he said.
Fiegel explained that while the numbers he was presenting were a good estimate, they could change depending on final state funding.
The estimates came during a budget presentation at Monday's school board meeting.
The news likely means that the rate of teacher salary increases will not keep pace with those of recent years.
Teachers received a 3.25 percent increase for the 1997-1998 school year, and a 4.2 percent increase for 1998-1999. They have proposed a 3.7 percent increase for 1999-2000, but the district has not accepted the proposal. District negotiators don't have any new contract talks set with teachers to discuss proposals, but Human Resources Director Marcia Bone said during contract negotiations last month that the teachers may end up with less than they had hoped.
To reach an agreeable end, Fiegel said, there may be some reallocations not directly related to students that could free up some money or make better use of people and services.
"For example, we had 2.5 vacancies for registered nurses at schools," he said. "We think we could get better coverage using LPNs (licensed practical nurses). We could get six and have more coverage at schools. The net effect would be no effect on the budget."
Changes may also come in the area of curriculum, Fiegel said.
"We're looking at reducing the textbook adoption funds and move toward more trained staff," he said. "That's something we'll need to look at."
The board will get a more comprehensive look when the budget is presented in its complete form next month. At this time, Fiegel said, "We're looking for some direction from the board."
When the board meets next month -- after Fiegel has gone to begin his new job as a superintendent in Illinois -- the numbers won't be estimates, he said.
"Next time you hear about the budget you'll hear more the final numbers and where you're going," Fiegel told the board.
The board will meet again for its regularly scheduled business at 7 p.m. June 28 at the District Service Center, 3705 Clinton Pkwy.
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