After weeks of hearing public pleas not to close schools or significantly raise the student-teacher ratio, Lawrence school board members on Monday will get into the details about their budget cuts.
Board President Scott Morgan said board members will talk — line-by-line — through a list of potential cuts to try to get to $5 million in savings.
Among items on the list are $3 million in program and administrative cuts and proposals from Save Our Neighborhood Schools, which wants a combination of some cuts and higher fees without closing schools or cutting teaching jobs.
Morgan mentioned a scenario last week that included closing Wakarusa Valley and Sunset Hill elementary schools. He said other board members need to start weighing in on raising the student-teacher ratio and which schools they would consider closing.
“I would hope to get into specifics so we’re not just saying we’re closing two schools,” Morgan said. “I think we know enough about the different issues at each of the schools that we need to be able to say and name names or else we really haven’t made much progress.”
Two board members, Rich Minder and Vanessa Sanburn, have said they want to make cuts without closing neighborhood elementary schools. Other board members have left the closure option on the table, but most haven’t said which schools they would close.
Each time it closed a school, the district would save $400,000 to $600,000. Each time the district would raise the student-teacher ratio by one student, it would save about $1 million and cut about 20 teaching jobs. This option means larger elementary classes and fewer courses at secondary schools.
Members of Save Our Neighborhood Schools say board members have options to make cuts without closing schools.
“It would be premature to close schools before next year,” group member Chuck Epp said.
Other parents say raising the student-teacher ratio will have a greater effect on the district’s larger and more crowded schools, including Langston Hughes, Sunflower and Quail Run. These parents say the board needs to look at boundary changes or another way to lessen the impact.
“If they do that, they have to make sure that the negative impact of cuts as a whole are evenly shared throughout the district,” said Kitty Ware, a Langston Hughes parent.
Morgan said it’s possible the board could make some decisions Monday and ask for information on other points.
District officials want a decision about cuts at least by the end of the month so any teachers who may lose their jobs have as much notice as possible.
“We may not have all the details worked out,” Morgan said. “But I hope that we will know the broad picture of where we will go to make those cuts.”