Archive for Monday, October 19, 2009

School district hopes budget stretches far enough

More state cuts may be coming, and the outlook for 2010-2011 is simply anybody’s guess

The Lawrence school district is looking at potential budget cuts after falling short of budget predictions. The cuts would come sometime in December or January.

October 19, 2009


The Lawrence school district’s budget was slashed by $2.5 million by the time the first bell rang in the 2009-2010 school year.

And now, with lower tax revenues going to state government, the local school board might have to look at more cuts in January.

“It’s going to get kind of ugly,” school board President Scott Morgan said.

State tax receipts for the first quarter of the fiscal year, which began July 1, are down 12 percent compared with last year. During the 2009 legislative session, the state budget was cut three times. Gov. Mark Parkinson made additional cuts after lawmakers adjourned last spring.

The Lawrence district is trying to brace itself for further reductions in this year’s budget.

“We have gone into the fiscal year knowing that it was very possible that we would have a cut yet in this fiscal year,” Morgan said.

To help protect itself, the district is only spending half the money it allocated for instruction materials and professional development. Superintendent Rick Doll said the district is holding $500,000 in reserve.

“That will not sit well with (principals) because they’re already really pinched and have not purchased some things that they need to,” Doll said. “But that may be the only option we have.”

The district also has a contingency fund to dip into if necessary.

Rather than getting state funding in one lump sum, each district in the state receives a monthly check from Topeka. Sometimes, those checks don’t make it in time to pay district employees.

“With the way Kansas operates, we face the risk of not getting a monthly check from them,” Morgan said. “People are expecting their check from us and that’s why we have contingencies.”

And paying certified employees just got a little more expensive.

The board ratified new teacher contracts earlier this month. It will cost the district about $523,000 in increased pay, which ranges from $200 to $1,500, depending on a teacher’s experience and education.

Doll said teachers deserved the raise. But he acknowledged: “It puts us even deeper in the hole.”

The school board cut custodial staff, busing for students who live closer than 2.5 miles from their school, and elementary school clerical aides. The board might have to start looking at classrooms for new cost-savings measures, something it tried to avoid during the last round of cuts.

“With 85 percent of our budget spent on staff, after a while, you lose options as to where you can make cuts,” Morgan said.

Doll says the district and board tried to protect teacher jobs, and, ultimately, class sizes, but potential mid-year cuts could affect that by impacting next year’s budget.

“I’m not sure that we’re going to be able to hold to that commitment in the future,” Doll said.

Both Doll and Morgan think the district can make it through this year. The 2010-2011 school year, however, is another story.

“Between contingencies and the way that we’ve delayed spending … I think we’ll be fine,” Morgan said. “It won’t be fun, but we can do it.”


Robert Rauktis 7 years, 12 months ago

But what really matters is that they have two new football stadiums.

headdoctor 7 years, 12 months ago

“Between contingencies and the way that we’ve delayed spending … I think we’ll be fine,” Morgan said. “It won’t be fun, but we can do it.”

So, other than a read between the lines," We are screwed as tax payers for 2010-2011", what was the purpose of the article? Just more whine for smoke and mirrors.

Normally if the school district is hurting for money I would raise an eyebrow of concern but not with this bunch. They have run their yap and cried wolf one to many times as well as pulling some real boneheaded stunts. They already picked up 2.5 million outside money to help with teacher salaries. Before I will bite I want to see figures not someone throwing out percentages.

KSManimal 7 years, 12 months ago


Sure, they picked up 2.5 million in "outside" money - but the state cut that much and more; at the same time expenses have gone up (insurance, fuel, utilities, etc.,). Plus, that 2.5 million income is "one-time" dollars (gone next year)....whereas the state cuts are "permanent".

Do the math.

headdoctor 7 years, 12 months ago

KSManimal (Anonymous) says… Headdoctor: Sure, they picked up 2.5 million in “outside” money - but the state cut that much and more; at the same time expenses have gone up (insurance, fuel, utilities, etc.,). Plus, that 2.5 million income is “one-time” dollars (gone next year)….whereas the state cuts are “permanent”. Do the math.

I understand one gives money the other takes it way. As far as the over all budget I can't do the math because I don't have the figures to do so and the info on the web site is very incomplete. For the record, I am all for schools having funding. I just get sick of the continual yapping about their budget. They even Yap when things go good and I am still not happy with some of the bone head actions taken. If revenues were up they would still be yapping.

I understand the the mill levy and budgets quite well. Next time before you get condescending about the math maybe you should figure out if you really understand how the budget and taxation works.

Dan Eyler 7 years, 12 months ago

Its for the kids. Those 5 million dollar stadiums were for the kids. Typical of our public schools. They continue to set one bad example after another for our kids. Your circumstances don't matter. If it feels good do it, spend it, waste it and then go back with your hand out for more money with the same old message "its for the kids."

weeslicket 7 years, 12 months ago

to the ljworld staff: it would be nice if you would also report that 45% of certified teachers will recieve exactly nothing in terms of salary. plus the increased cost of health coverages, so less than nothing for "compensation". 45% of certified teachers.

is the ljworld ready to delve into the foggy world of state, and then local, educational funding?

weeslicket 7 years, 12 months ago

questions: 1. will the school board offer a 1% salary increase to 100% of administrators? 2. will the school board also offer to pay for 100% of the increased cost of the district's health benefits for administrators as a part of their "compensation package"?
3. will our new administrative team have the courage to say NO to such an offer; at least until adiministration and certified teachers are compensated equitably?

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