Lawrence school board examining options for closing $4 million budget hole

Study session examines areas for possible budget cuts

The Lawrence school board wants more information when it comes to what it can do to make up a multimillion-dollar budgetary shortfall.

The board is looking at a nearly $4 million gap in the 2010-11 school year budget if the base state aid and enrollment stay flat.

“Cutting budgets is a remarkably unpleasant role for the board,” board President Scott Morgan said. “We have to work it out.”

If the district raises the student-to-teacher ratio by one, about 21 teachers would lose their jobs and the district would save nearly $1 million.

“We’re not talking about one more person to each class,” Chief Operations Officer Frank Harwood said. “One class might not get any more and one class might get 10 more.”

At elementary schools, if the ratio goes up by one, the largest classes in the district would be at 39 students. The move would cause 30 classrooms in elementary schools around the district to go over 26 students per class.

“This isn’t just an elementary school issue,” board member Mark Bradford said.

When teacher salaries are averaged, the most expensive elementary school to run is New York. It costs just over $6,000 to educate each student. The lowest cost per student is at Langston Hughes, where it costs $3,616 to educate each student.

The board has asked for more information in regard to cost savings related to things like changing school boundaries and reconfiguration.

The group is hoping to make final budgetary decisions in March.