Now that the state Legislature has settled on a budget that slashes an additional 2.75 percent from Kansas public school funding, the Lawrence school board is looking for another $900,000 to cut from its proposed budget.
On May 26, the board will see an updated list of potential reductions totaling $3.6 million. It will be the board’s job to choose what will stay on the cuts list.
But some Lawrence High School students hope they can persuade board members not to cut one of two prevention specialist jobs. The specialists coordinate and oversee programs aimed at preventing alcohol and drug use among students.
Each high school has its own specialist, and one — Lawrence High’s Diane Ash — is on the list of possible cuts.
“She’s the engine of this program,” said Marshall Rawley, a sophomore who spoke to the school board Monday in support of keeping both prevention specialists. “Prevention is what I’m passionate about. I really like it. I just want to defend it, not go down without a fight.”
As they review the list of proposed cuts, board members also will consider: reductions in bus services, the parent-teacher program, uniform purchases, attendance secretaries, custodians, learning coaches, assistant coaches and library media assistants. There’s also the possibility the board will leave open some teaching positions.
“If we don’t fill some of these vacancies, it will ... have the effect of raising class sizes,” Superintendent Randy Weseman said. “That’s still on the table.”
The bright spot in the recently completed legislative session was passage of Senate Bill 84, which allows the district to keep the local option budget at its current level.
“Had that legislation not passed, we would have had to cut another million,” Weseman said.
Some LHS students are hoping their prevention specialist, Ash, and the programs she coordinates are spared.
“I just feel really strongly about it and I don’t feel like it’s fair for us to take that away from other kids who might not have the opportunity to get that information,” said junior Erica Demby, who also spoke at Monday’s meeting.
The board will have until the middle of June to decide what to cut from the proposed budget.