Lawrence school district recommends $6.45M in budget cuts in proposal meant to minimize student impact
photo by: Journal-World
Lawrence school district administrators have released a list of recommended budget cuts for the school board’s consideration, and a special meeting will be held to discuss them on March 22.
As part of their meeting Feb. 21, Lawrence school board members asked district administrators to create a list that prioritized potential budget cuts with the least impact on students. The district estimates its budget shortfall for this school year is $3.2 million to $3.85 million, and the board has discussed a target of $7 million in budget reductions to have funding for teacher and staff raises.
On Friday evening, the district released a list of 23 recommended budget cuts prioritized numerically based on student impact as well as a list of nine budget reductions that district administration is not recommending. The list of 23 recommended budget cuts comes to a total of $6.45 million, and the list of cuts that are not recommended comes to a total of $2.79 million.
Some of the recommended reductions include the creation of multi-grade elementary classrooms for an estimated savings of $2.08 million; increasing maximum class sizes for the Lawrence Virtual School for an estimated savings of about $719,000; increasing the maximum middle school class size by one student for an estimated savings of $706,800; reductions to library/media staff for an estimated savings of $605,300; reductions to administrative staff for an estimated savings of $400,000; and a reduction of six additional high school staff for an estimated savings of $393,000. Most of the recommended cuts have been discussed before, but some, such as the increase to classroom sizes for the virtual school, are new.
The nine budget reductions that district administration is not recommending include a 25% districtwide reduction to music, art, physical education and library budgets; a 75% reduction to learning coaches, who provide support to new teachers; a 75% reduction to library/media staff; and cutting one assistant principal from each high school. District administrators are also not recommending a 5% reduction to the salaries of administrators making more than $100,000, citing an impact to retention and recruitment of high-quality administrators.
The district’s executive leadership team asked all administrators to submit new ideas for budget reductions and to review existing proposals developed by the Budget and Program Evaluation subcommittees, according to a district news release. The release states that administrators examined the impacts of budget proposals on equity and meeting students’ academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. The executive leadership team used that input to develop the recommendations and the list of nonrecommended cuts, both of which are available on the district’s website at usd497.org/BPEC.
Board President Erica Hill has called a special meeting of the board at 6 p.m. March 22, for the purpose of a budget work session, according to the release. The meeting will not include public comment.
The board plans to begin making decisions about budget reductions at its next regularly scheduled meeting March 28. The public may sign up to provide input during that meeting by emailing PublicComment@usd497.org by 6 p.m. March 28.