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Archive for Tuesday, February 26, 2002

List of $3.2 million in school budget cuts, fee increases

February 26, 2002

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The Lawrence school board is concentrating on development of proposals that reduce spending or raise revenue in the district for the 2002-2003 budget year.

Supt. Randy Weseman is urging the school board to create a blueprint that provides $5 million for reallocation to teacher salaries and benefits as well as top-priority programs. His motivation is a feeling that the 2002 Legislature won't increase, and may deeply reduce, state funding to public school districts.

Currently, the board has identified $3.2 million in probable budget cuts or fee hikes.

While the board took action Monday on a portion of the list, a bulk of the adjustments will come to a vote March 11.

Approved Monday night by the board:

 Increase teacher-to-student ratio at secondary schools to save $279,141. This decision eliminates the equivalent of seven teaching staff at the high schools and junior high schools, and restricts access to Latin, German and other courses. It was recommended by secondary principals.

 Eliminate a part-time American Sign Language teaching position at the high schools to save $26,157. This comes out of the special-education budget.

 Adjust the teacher-to-student ratio for elementary schools to eliminate the equivalent of seven teaching jobs, and save $297,000 dollars.

To be considered March 11 by the board:

 Eliminate all-day kindergarten in the district for a savings of $212,760. All-day programs at New York, East Heights, Kennedy, Riverside and Cordley schools serve about 150 students. Fourteen other elementary schools have half-day kindergarten programs. It's possible a fee-based program could be started for parents interested in enrolling their children in an all-day program.

 Implement a pay-to-ride bus system that maintains all existing routes, but requires all students living less than 2.5 miles from his or her school to pay a feed to ride. Children in the federal free-lunch program would ride free. It could generate $200,000 in revenue for the district, assuming 1,000 students pay $200 per year to ride the bus.

 Create a pay-to-play activity fee for sports and extracurricular activities, which could generate $209,000 annually. This could replace a recommendation from secondary principals to eliminate all sophomore sports and junior high school cheerleading. Students in the federal free-lunch program wouldn't pay fees.

 Eliminate the equivalent of 13.9 school district counseling positions to save $658,604. Essentially, this would shut down counseling services in elementary schools. Staff reductions will be based on districtwide seniority, meaning some secondary counselors could be replaced by elementary counselors with more seniority.

 Increase textbook rental fees to $72 annually from $42 a year. This would generate $210,000 with an enrollment of 10,000 students. Students in the federal free-lunch program wouldn't pay, but those in the federal reduced-lunch program would pay $5 each to generate $5,000 a year.

 Shift to the district's capital outlay fund the salaries of maintenance and technical staff, which frees up $250,000 in the general fund. This savings could be reinvested in teacher salaries and benefits.

 Drop funding for WRAP, an in-school student intervention program, to save $140,000.

 Eliminate special-education jobs in autism, therapeutic classrooms, speech/language, substitute paraprofessionals, psychology interns, suspension-alternative programs for a savings to cut $122,000.

 Increase the district's activity fee for secondary students to $50 from $15. With 5,000 students, and factoring in students in the free-lunch program, it would generate $121,000 a year.

 Eliminate positions of an orchestra teacher and an assistant choral teacher for a savings of $85,000.

 Discontinue teaching positions for two high school, one junior high school as well as part-time elementary and junior high paraprofessionals involved in gifted student programs to save $81,000.

 Create a technology fee of $10 per student, which would raise $70,000 after free-lunch students were excluded.

 Authorize a "learning-resource" fee of $10 per student, which also would generate $70,000 annually.

 Assess a $10 field-trip transportation fee for elementary students that produces $70,000 in revenue.

 Reduce the 20-member staff of registered nurses to 14 RNs and 11 less-costly nurse aides for a maximum savings of $55,531. High schools would continue to have full-time RNs, but other schools would have either a nurse or health aide on site. Health aids have minimal training, which includes CPR, first aid and medication administration.

 Reduce library media staffing for a savings of $42,600.

 Increase school facility rental fees to generate $35,000.

 Drop electronic periodical and encyclopedia services to cut $22,500.

 Eliminate a half-time secretarial position at district headquarters to save $12,500.

 Cut the district's advertising budget by $2,000.

 Reduce the extended vocational agriculture contract at Lawrence High School to cut $2,000.

The board agreed not to consider the following:

 Increase class sizes in elementary schools to eliminate the equivalent of 12 full-time teacher jobs and cut spending by $518,000.

 Permit students in the high schools to take seven courses each semester, instead of saving $222,000 by limiting students to six courses per semester.

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