Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2012

Enrollment increase, money management have enabled school budget reversal

April 26, 2012


Earlier this week, the Lawrence school board reversed years of budget cutting and approved nearly $2 million worth of new programs.

The board expanded the district’s full-day kindergarten to four more schools, added 21 new teachers to the district and agreed to fund a program geared toward getting more middle-of-the road students and first-generation college students into universities.

It was a move that left some people scratching their heads wondering where the money came from. The short answer is that the district has seen an increase in enrollment, which means a significant boost in funding. And, during the past couple of years, the district has built up a cash reserve from state dollars that is targeted for at-risk programs.

On top of that, the district’s chief operations officer, Kyle Hayden, said that in the face of a bleak funding outlook, the district ended up cutting more than was needed. He noted that was a better option than running out of money.

“Playing the conservative approach for the short term is paying off now,” he said. “It has allowed us to make some decisions to reverse those cuts.”

For a more detailed explanation, here are some numbers that will help piece together the different pots of money the district will pull from to fund these programs.

$1.15 million

The anticipated cost for the district to hire 21 new teachers, which will lower class sizes by one student in elementary and middle schools.


The cost of hiring a division director of instruction, a position that had been cut.


Additional funding the school district received for the 2011-2012 school year because of increased enrollment. The district thinks it will receive a similar amount next year.

0.8 percent

The amount district enrollment is expected to increase by next school year, bringing in about $400,000.

$1 million

A rough estimate of the additional money the school will receive next year because of two consecutive years of enrollment increases. This money will be used to cover the cost of additional teachers and staff.


The amount of “unbudgeted funds” expected at the end of the school year. Some of it will be used to cover the cost of hiring more teachers.

$5.5 million

The amount of money the district received from the state’s at-risk funding. This funding is based on the percentage of students who receive free and reduced lunches and can only be spent on certain programs.


Cost of expanding the district’s full-day kindergarten program to Sunset Hill, Deerfield, Quail Run and Langston Hughes. The expense will be covered through the district’s at-risk dollars.

$4.8 million

The amount of money the district spent in at-risk dollars, leaving about $700,000 unused. Of that amount, about $500,000 will go toward covering full-day kindergarten. The district anticipates receiving and spending similar amounts of at-risk dollars in future years, which would make the kindergarten program sustainable.

$3.8 million

How much money that’s expected to remain in the district’s contingency reserve, which is around 6 percent of the district’s entire general fund budget, at the end of the school year.


nascar 5 years, 7 months ago

Not a single mention of the BOE spending a dime to pay existing employee salaries. Poor reporting or just the usual BOE thinking of current employees getting what is left?

ChristineMetz 5 years, 7 months ago

Hi Nascar,

The school board and teacher's union are currently in negotiations, which we have been covering. Salary increases are among the requests the teachers have made during the process, which is far from over. When the board makes a decision on teacher's salaries we'll be sure to cover it and explain where the money is coming from.

This story was focused on how the district planned to pay for full-day kindergarten and lower class sizes, two programs the board recently adopted.

nascar 5 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Christine. I was hoping you'd just left out the part where the BOE wanted to put some money toward existing employees. It is now even more clear that current employees will get what is left.

aryastark1984 5 years, 7 months ago

Thanks to the new members of the school board for "encouraging" transparency in the budget. Maybe the era of "cut the elementary schools and stash the money" will now be over or at least exposed.

EJ Mulligan 5 years, 7 months ago

+1 I was also thinking that Wakarusa Valley families probably choked on their cornflakes this morning when they read about this surplus.

aryastark1984 5 years, 7 months ago

No kidding. What a colossally short sighted move and we now know that it was unnecessary.

Carol Braden 5 years, 7 months ago

What about restoration of the cuts to Parents as Teachers?

patgilbey1 5 years, 7 months ago

i appreciate the thought, but waky families choked on their cornflakes a year ago. we knew this would be the case.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 5 years, 7 months ago

Yes, what that board did last year was unforgiveable. And what this board won't un-do is also unforgiveable. They are all to blame! I'm sure glad at least someone else's children will benefit while our children suffer the consequences. What I'd really like to know is where to they plan to put all these children? This district grew and is still growing. Physical space is an unaddressed issue. If this district keeps growing and special needs kids are now receiving services in the hallways, don't you think perhaps we should reopen Wakarusa?

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