The Lawrence Schools Foundation has collected about $2,000 in donations to help with the district’s budget crisis so far. Foundation executive director Susan Esau said board members can use that money anywhere in their general fund.
However, foundation leaders had already suggested that potential donors wait until after board members identified their specific school program cuts, which they did Tuesday night. Board members still need to officially authorize an option for a “fund-a-need” donation to try to restore specific cuts, but during their discussions they mentioned relying on donations to restore some cuts.
More information about donating is available at lawrenceschoolsfoundation.org.
One day after Lawrence school board members approved a budget cut plan without closing any schools for next year, administrators got to work on the details.
The $2.9 million in school program and administrative cuts includes everything from $3,394 in savings by eliminating Choral Connections and securing a lower rental fee for the All-City Choir Concert to cutting learning coach positions that aren’t federally funded to save $495,717.
“There are faces on every decision we’ve made,” board member Mary Loveland said. “Almost all of them involve reductions in employment or eliminating their employment, and it’s very distressing. But that’s the problem when 85 percent of your budget is salaries.”
Superintendent Rick Doll said Wednesday district leaders are still gathering information to determine how many jobs will be cut.
On top of those program cuts, board members reached a compromise and approved reductions in other areas to take closing elementary schools off the table. Here are more details:
The East Heights Early Childhood Family Center, 1430 Haskell Ave., will close to save the district $350,000.
The pre-kindergarten programs for the 130 children would move to Kennedy School, which has about 350 students.
The district is considering making Kennedy a pre-kindergarten to second- or third-grade school, and moving the older Kennedy students into New York School. Or, the school board could change boundaries to shift more Kennedy students into New York.
“We want to accomplish as little disruption as possible to the (East Heights) children and families,” board member Rich Minder said.
A $1.1 million savings comes from increasing the district’s student-teacher ratio by one student.
This means larger class sizes in elementary schools and the secondary school core classes. It will cut about 20 teaching jobs district-wide.
The number of teaching retirements in the district will account for most of those cuts, but Doll said some teachers with less than three years of experience in the district will still be affected by certain cuts, such as learning coaches returning to teaching. That process will need to be worked out, he said.
To save $92,896, board members agreed to cut one principal position.
Doll said this can be done two ways. The district could require one principal to be responsible for two elementary schools. Or officials could require one elementary principal to take on more roles, such as also being the school’s librarian or counselor.
To get closer to the required $5 million in savings, board members also agreed to:
• Restructure school nurses and cut one full-time nursing position to save $43,520.
• Tap into a fee-funded instructional materials fund next year to save $200,000.
• Consider dipping into the district’s contingency reserve fund to cover the rest.
• Appoint a community task force to review the district’s older school buildings to examine possible changes for the future.