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.