Superintendent Randy Weseman told Lawrence school board members Monday night that they have to be making cuts between now and June 1 to meet the lack of public education funding stemming from the state’s approved budget.
“Our projections were pretty close,” Weseman said. He noted the board will receive a refined list of potential cuts at its meeting May 26.
The state cut another $83 million from funding after cutting $45 million during its first round of cutbacks. But Senate Bill 84 passed, meaning the district will be able to keep the local option budget monies it collects at the current level.
“Even though we’re thankful that we did preserve authority for the LOB and we didn’t receive ... 5 percent cuts, we are hurt at 2.75,” Weseman said.
Teacher contract negotiations have been ongoing and those discussions include teacher fringe benefits, namely health care.
The board Monday authorized the fringe benefits committee to change health insurance providers from Cigna to Coventry Health Care. However, the proposed plan would cost the district another $1 million.
“Several of us asked for a zero increase plan,” said board member Marlene Merrill.
The fringe benefit committee co-chair, Valerie Johnson-Powell, said the group will come back to the board with a zero increase option to look at.
The switch to Coventry was due to a large increase in cost from Cigna.
“The renewal increase out of the gate was almost 48 percent,” said Andy Cater, a third-party fringe benefit consultant with Haake Companies.
Athletic field work
The board approved the purchase of bleachers for both new high school football fields. The bleachers are part of phase two of the outdoor athletic field upgrade.
Total cost of the project is just over $2.2 million. Each facility will be able to hold about 3,500 people, with home and visitor bleachers on opposite sides of each field.
The board also approved the renovation of bathrooms at Lawrence High at the cost of $188,000. Operations and facility planning division director Tom Bracciano said the work should be done in time for the start of the new school year. The contract includes new flooring, fixtures, partitions, ceilings and lighting.
The next board meeting will be Tuesday, May 26, because of Memorial Day.