The Kansas state government has cut funding for public education five times since July 2008. After making $2.5 million in cuts already for this school year, the Lawrence school board must cut just over $3 million more before the school year is over.
“It’s a lot of dollars that have been taken away from us in just a very short period of time,” finance division director Kathy Johnson said.
The board does have a few options. The district can dip into its contingency fund to make up the budget deficit, but the district also needs to be able to make payroll, which is about $5.5 million, and pay bills each month.
“We don’t always get the money that we’re anticipating and we have to be able to pay the bills and operate on a cash basis,” board member Marlene Merrill said.
The district has already held $500,000 back from building budgets for instructional costs and professional development. Johnson recommended the board take $2 million from the contingency account, leaving another $500,00 to find through funds not spent and potentially more mid-year cuts.
“We’ve already told building principals that they’ve got a lot less in their budgets,” Superintendent Rick Doll said. “We have to find either inside the budget or through cuts another $500,000.”
The 2010-11 school year doesn’t look much better. Unless the board makes permanent and ongoing reductions, it will have to cut another $3.9 million before next school year. That number can fluctuate based on future decisions in spending or saving, or if the state decides to cut more money from public education funding.
The board will have study sessions in January to make final decisions on how much to dip into its contingency fund versus how much to cut in order to make up the multimillion-dollar deficit.
“People need to know earlier rather than later,” board President Scott Morgan said.