As Lawrence school board members are determining how to cut an estimated $4 million to $5 million before next school year because of the state’s fiscal crisis, the pain is universal across the state.
“I don’t know if anybody’s got the magic answer yet,” said Dale Dennis, a state deputy education commissioner.
Districts will likely have to cut $300 million more statewide for next school year, Dennis said.
Options for Lawrence board members include raising the student-teacher ratio and even closing elementary schools, which has sparked protests from many parents and community members.
Barbara Fuller, the Wichita school board president, said the state’s largest district is looking at $20 million in cuts for next year.
Reducing the number of administrators, schools counselors, teaching jobs and programs are all on the table, but she said one option has been missing from the discussion.
“I don’t foresee us having to close buildings,” said Fuller, a retired elementary school teacher.
Because of increasing enrollment, the Manhattan school district likely won’t close any schools, said Michele Jones, a district spokeswoman.
The district has formed a 33-member committee that includes parents and community members to explore how to make cuts from $1.5 million to $3.4 million. “As we get community members and parents involved, you see it through another set of eyes, and they ask questions that we don’t even think about asking anymore,” Jones said.
Parents involved with Save Our Neighborhood Schools in Lawrence have criticized board members and administrators for not involving the community more during the budget process.
The Lawrence district will have four budget forums in the next month — 7 p.m. Tuesday at South Junior High School, 2734 La.; 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at Southwest Junior High School, 2511 Inverness Drive; 7 p.m. March 1 at Central Junior High School, 1400 Mass.; and 7:30 p.m. March 2 at West Junior High School, 2700 Harvard Road.