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Archive for Tuesday, April 28, 2009

School board holds off making budget cuts

The Lawrence School Board has decided to wait on word from the state before making any more budget cuts.

April 28, 2009

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The Lawrence school board at its meeting Monday night decided to wait on the state Legislature before making any more cuts.

The district has already made about $1.5 million worth of cuts and the board saw a list of other potential reductions totaling just under $3 million during a budget study session.

“The state’s revenue situation continues to deteriorate,” said Superintendent Randy Weseman. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we are at least looking at another $75 off the base and that could go as far as $130 off the base.”

Currently, the Legislature has taken $66 from the 2009-2010 base state aid per pupil. Instead of making cuts, the board decided to wait and see how much more could come off that number.

“The majority of that list (is) district things,” said Kathy Johnson, the finance division director.

Some of the items on the potential cut list include reducing secondary school attendance secretaries, cutting bus service for students who live less than 2.5 miles from elementary and junior high schools, and cutting days and/or hours to equal the salaries of 14 custodians.

The board also suggested figures it wanted to see for potential future cuts, including how much could be saved if one student were added to each class across the district or how much would be saved by closing schools or refiguring which grades attend what schools.

“These are things I don’t necessarily want to do, but my thinking is we may have to do these things next year,” said Scott Morgan, school board vice president.

But for now, the only certified staff cut was made at the board’s April 13 meeting. The new list of cuts centers on the administrative level and classified staff.

“You can actually position for $3.1 million (in cuts) without doing any certified cuts,” Weseman said.

The district is also waiting on what happens with Senate Bill 84, which deals with the local option budget.

“The Senate would allow the local option budget to stay at its current level if it passes, which would save the district about a million and a half (dollars) in cuts,” Weseman said.

If it does not pass, the local option budget will be reduced because it is tied to state funding, which will also be a smaller amount.

School board President Craig Grant thinks that the Lawrence budget situation is bad, but it could be worse.

“We’re in better shape than many districts in this state because of good fiscal responsibility of our staff and of our board,” Grant said. “These cuts are painful.”

The Legislature comes back for its wrap-up session Wednesday.

Comments

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 5 months ago

Every article about the school district's budget should make mention of the district's total annual budget. I want to be reminded of how much we're paying.

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KSManimal 5 years, 5 months ago

Every article about the school district's budget should make mention of how much of our gross domestic product, free press, military might, and essential infrastructure are made possible because we educate our citizens.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 5 months ago

KSManimal,

Would you support the government paying for every family to send their child to the fully-accredited school of their choice, whether public or private? If not, why not?

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average 5 years, 5 months ago

SRTS (admittedly, not my ball to hit) -

I could be okay with vouchers if those voucher-recipient schools had to take every student that came to them. Period. If there are too many applicants, slots are filled by pure lottery. No additional costs to separate, either.

If those schools have any choice in selectivity at all, of course they'll do better. If I could refuse 20% of the students in a district, I could easily run a school for less than half the cost of our current system and get much better test results, too.

Any selection allowed, and you will have public 'schools of last resort', which will indeed be awful.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 5 months ago

average,

Admittedly, I had not considered that. Good point.

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KSManimal 5 years, 5 months ago

Well, no.

First, I was gonna say what average said!

I know there are plenty of private schools that do a great job at what they do. But, the very fact of them being CHOSEN by the families gives them an advantage - the school is filled with students whose families value education. Give everyone that choice, and some schools will have 100% of their student body coming from families who don't care. Those schools would be a mess, to say the least.

Second is the issue of paying for it. Our governments struggles enough to pay for ONE school system. How can government possibly afford to adequately finance MULTIPLE school systems? And what about transportation costs? If every family chose where their kid went to school, the impact of that on transportation costs would be disastrous. If transportation wasn't provided, many families (and it's not the wealthy ones...) wouldn't really have a choice. If that were the case, then such a system would be little more than a taxpayer-funded subsidy for the wealthy.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 5 months ago

So sub-standard government schools for everyone is better than providing better opportunities to as many children as possible? No outcome will be perfect, I'll admit, but I for one am sick of the status quo.

And public schools are already a taxpayer-funded subsidy for the wealthy. That rich doctor who sends his five kids to public schools can afford to pay the entire cost of his kids' education, but he gets $55,000 annual subsidy paid for by everyone else's property taxes, including that low-wage earner who has chosen not to have any kids.

We need to demand tution for primary and secondary education from those families which can afford to pay. No more of this spread-the-wealth-around nonsense.

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KSManimal 5 years, 5 months ago

“So sub-standard government schools for everyone is better than providing better opportunities to as many children as possible?”

Aside from your incorrect grammar, you’re presenting a false dichotomy here. There is no reason (other than misplaced priorities) why we can’t have the absolute best public school system in the world. Consider the fact that we have the greatest military power in the history of the world – publicly financed. Do you think our national security would be better served by multiple, private militias?

Also at issue here is your implication that public schools are sub-standard. While there certainly are districts that struggle to educate students, the fact is that public schools overall are doing an excellent job. Those that do struggle are, almost invariably, those that serve the most challenging student populations – inner city schools that must teach in spite of the poverty, gangs, drugs, etc., that plague their constituents.

“And public schools are already a taxpayer-funded subsidy for the wealthy. That rich doctor who sends his five kids to public schools can afford to pay the entire cost of his kids' education, but he gets $55,000 annual subsidy paid for by everyone else's property taxes,”

That makes no sense. That rich doctor pays far more in income and property taxes than a low-wage earner does. Quite likely, his taxes are beyond what is spent on educating his children. And don’t forget that he himself likely earned his MD through publicly-funded institutions. If he didn’t, you can bet most of his nurses, billing agents, secretaries, etc., did. No one exists in a vacuum.

“including that low-wage earner who has chosen not to have any kids.”

The premise that only people with children should pay for public education is incredibly shallow and short-sighted. That’s like saying “I don’t have any kids in the military, so I shouldn’t have to pay for it.” Remember, that low-wage earner received an education paid for by others. That alone is enough to warrant their own contributions now. Also, don’t forget that the childless adult reaps the benefits of our society that would be impossible without an educated populace. All the goods, services, infrastructure, businesses, indeed the whole of our economy depends on an educated populace. Everyone benefits, so everyone should pay for it.

“We need to demand tution for primary and secondary education from those families which can afford to pay. No more of this spread-the-wealth-around nonsense.”

Are you even reading what you’re typing? That statement contradicts itself.

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