Another cost of educating Lawrence's children went up Monday, when school board members agreed to pay $21,200 for an annual audit.
"That about a 5 percent increase over last year's" audit, said Thomas Singleton, an accountant with Lowenthal, Singleton, Webb & Wilson, a Lawrence firm that has audited the district's books for several years.
The three-part audit is required by state law. It's expected to cover financial statements, the district's Medicaid receipts and activity funds at Free State and Lawrence high schools and a not-yet-named junior high.
Singleton warned board members that the district's auditing costs were likely to "skyrocket" by as much as 20 percent in about five years if the federal government follows through on plans to require deeper, more thorough audits.
"We're not there yet, but they're laying the groundwork for it," Singleton said.
Supt. Randy Weseman said the latest increase, while small, was one of many examples of the district's ever-increasing costs. These costs, he said, continue to undercut the district's efforts to increase teacher salaries.
Board members last week offered teachers a modest "step increase" in pay for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years. The 2004-05 raise would be retroactive.
The offer will be discussed during the March 9 negotiations meeting between teachers and the board. Both sides have worried publicly about the likelihood that the district will lose experienced teachers.
Thirteen teachers -- eight with more than 25 years of experience -- have notified the board of their intent to retire in May or June.
"That's a lot of experience leaving the district," said board member Sue Morgan.
Also Monday, board members:
- were introduced to Felton Avery, who will take over as principal at Kennedy School on July 1, replacing Climetine Clayburn, who is retiring. Avery, 57, is currently a middle school principal in Grandview, Mo.
- heard a report on the district's gifted education programs, outlining concerns with offerings varying among schools.