Officials at the Lawrence school district will present a 2012-13 budget to school board members Monday night that will hold the line on property tax rates while using an increase in state aid to provide $1.4 million for teacher raises.
Rick Doll, superintendent, said the district wouldn’t make its full budget available to the board or the public until Monday’s meeting because the district is continuing to work on its estimates for enrollment counts and the number of students on free and reduced lunches, along with other estimates.
“We’re going to budget for a few more kids,” he said, also adding that the district is projecting property values to remain flat.
Although teachers and the district are still involved in negotiations over compensation, the district has offered $1.4 million for raises, which Doll said represented the entire amount of the estimated new funding received from a $58 increase in the district’s base state aid per pupil.
“We realize that we’re butted up against Johnson County and the greater Kansas City metroplex where they can offer teachers higher salaries,” said Randy Masten, a school board member. “What we didn’t want to do is to start losing our teachers to a 40- or 45-minute drive to the east.”
The teachers union has so far rejected that offer and is instead advocating a proposal that would add $1.87 million to teacher salaries.
Doll said the district already levies the maximum allowable tax rate for its local option budget and the budget he would recommend to the school board on Monday will seek to continue that same rate.
The budget also includes other new initiatives the board had already approved, including a $1.15 million commitment to hire 21 new teachers and more than $525,000 to expand all-day kindergarten to the four elementary schools that do not have it: Sunset Hill, Deerfield, Quail Run and Langston Hughes. Doll said those funds would come from the district’s reserves.
The school board will vote on the proposed budget on Monday night, and it will be published in the Journal-World as required by law. The budget will get final approval after a public hearing on Aug. 13. Once the budget is published, the school board can legally approve a budget that’s lower than the published amount but not higher.
Doll said more details on the budget would be released during Monday’s presentation to the board.