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Archive for Sunday, August 11, 2013

School board set to pass $148.8 million budget

August 11, 2013

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The public will have its chance Monday night to speak out about the Lawrence school district's proposed $148.8 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

The board will conduct a public hearing on the budget when it meets at 7 p.m. in the administration center, 110 McDonald Drive. A final vote on the budget is scheduled for later in the meeting.

The budget reflects a 12 percent increase in "instructional" spending, which includes costs directly related to delivering educational instruction in the classroom.

It also provides for a large increase in "capital improvement" spending - $11.5 million next year, compared to $3.6 million last year - but officials say it's unlikely the district would actually use all of that spending authority.

Superintendent Rick Doll said the district deliberately over-budgets in certain areas such as capital improvements so that, in the event of unforeseen emergencies, the board won't have to go through the lengthy process of amending and republishing a new budget, and holding another public hearing.

Much of the district's budget, including its general fund, special education, and other areas, are predetermined through formulas that are spelled out in state law. In other areas, such as the "local option budget," state laws establish the maximum amounts districts can spend.

The property tax mill levy for the district would remain virtually unchanged under the proposed budget: 57.921 mills, which would be a small fraction of a mill lower than the current tax rate.

That would result in $1,332 in school district property taxes for the owner of a $200,000 house.

In other business, the board will:

• Hear a report about the current status of building safety, security and preparedness, including a discussion about building improvements to be made as part of the bond-funded construction program.

• Receive an update on the progress of plans for the bond-funded construction projects.

• Consider approval of owner-architect agreements with Gould Evans Associates and Sabatini Architects.

• Consider approving a contract with Terracon Consultants, Inc., for asbestos removal services.

• Discuss refining the board's goals for the 2013-2014 school year.

• And consider several items on the consent agenda, including renewal of a contract with K12 Inc., for curriculum, materials and outreach services for Lawrence Virtual School.

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