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Archive for Monday, June 9, 2014

Lawrence school board ratifies teacher contract, takes steps to recoup lost funds

June 9, 2014

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The Lawrence school board on Monday took steps to recoup much of funds lost as a result of a state law passed in April that changed the school finance formula.

The board also ratified a recently negotiated labor agreement with teachers.

Lawrence schools were expected to lose $1.8 million as a result of the law, a response to a state Supreme Court ruling that ordered changes in school funding. Members of the Lawrence school board voted to increase the local option budget by two percent, which would increase the amount of state aid and local tax levy money for the district and recover about $1.4 million.

District officials said they could choose to increase its local option budget from 31 to 33 percent for the 2014-15 school year only. To continue the same percentage the following year, the district will have to conduct a mail ballot election that would cost about $100,000, Superintendent Rick Doll said.

Kyle Hayden and Kathy Johnson, assistant superintendent and the director of finance, said the percentage bump would not result in a tax increase and would instead trigger a reallocation of more state aid.

School officials are hoping the $400,000 that is left unrecovered from finance formula change will be made up by enrollment growth. Hayden projects an extra 210 students will enroll for 2014-15.

In other action, board members ratified a new contract with teachers that establishes due process procedures, or tenure policies, similar to those that were stripped by state lawmakers at the end of the legislative session. The contract agreement includes an average 2 percent pay increase for teachers.

The agreement is still awaiting ratification from members of the Lawrence Education Association, the local teachers union. David Reber, a lead negotiator for the union, said after the two parties reached a tentative agreement two weeks ago that he hoped a vote among members would be completed by June 30.

The board also approved guaranteed maximum price contract agreements with three contractors for construction projects on six schools.

The district set maximum prices of $7.2 million for renovations and additions to Hillcrest Elementary; $2.8 million for security improvements and remodeling at Liberty Memorial Central, South, Southwest and West middle schools; and $3.7 million for renovations and additions to Free State High School.

Construction begins immediately and will last through next summer, Hayden said.

The board also approved the leasing of $2.2 million worth of Apple products for "blended classrooms," which use a mixture of multimedia and traditional instruction from teachers.

Comments

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 months, 1 week ago

Lost funds? What! I thought Brownback has just given all schools a wonderful raise in funding? Oh, yeah. I really need to stop reading his "propaganda".

The radical Republicans have graciously decided to allow school districts to raise money locally, so they can go around claiming that they didn't raise taxes and still funded the schools. Of course, you will notice your local taxes go up, if you live in a district that really cares about education. If you don't live in that district and you have school age children, I would suggest considering a move. They lead us to believe that very expensive private schools (who may pick and choose who can attend) are better, but that giving money to the public schools, doesn't make it better. And they expect public schools to teach all children, the neglected child, the developmentally disabled child, the child with drug addict parents, the child who has to work until 11:00 every night to help support their family, etc. And public schools should be able to face these challenges with less money, so that they can give more money to those who can already afford their private schools. Look around. The phrase "You get what you pay for." is often true.

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Fred Mertz 3 months, 1 week ago

The article states that the funding will not result in a tax increase.

"Kyle Hayden and Kathy Johnson, assistant superintendent and the director of finance, said the percentage bump would not result in a tax increase and would instead trigger a reallocation of more state aid."

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