The Lawrence school district’s budget ax will need to cut deeper.
District administrators said Thursday that school board members must cut an additional $500,000 for the 2009-2010 school year. Gov. Mark Parkinson announced another $39 million hit statewide to public schools in the midst of the state’s budget crisis.
“Our teachers will feel the pain with less support in the classroom, and so we’ll need to tighten our belt,” Superintendent Rick Doll said. “We kind of feel like a boxer here getting punched, and we just took another major blow today.”
The news could have been worse, Doll said. Last month, school board members followed the advice of then-Superintendent Randy Weseman and implemented about $700,000 more cuts than they needed to at the time.
Weseman has retired this week, and Doll, the former Louisburg superintendent, took over on Wednesday.
In the last year, the school board has cut more than $2.5 million from its budget — including reductions in the number of custodians and elementary school clerical aides. The district also eliminated bus service for students who live less than 2.5 miles from their schools.
Administrators will present board members with options on more cuts at their July 20 meeting.
Scott Morgan, school board president, said board members likely will look again at cutting more into the budget for support staff members and programs for students.
On top of Thursday’s announcement, board members have also asked for options to minimize a possible property tax increase. The economic recession has decreased property values in the school district, meaning it would take a higher mill levy rate to generate the same amount of revenue a year ago.
Preliminary district numbers anticipate an increase of 2 to 4 mills from last year, mostly to help make district bond payments because property values are lower than expected. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.
“There is a lot of interest on the board in trying to bring that number down because obviously everyone is hurting out there,” Morgan said.