Lawrence school board scheduled to finalize 2023-2024 budget

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence Public Schools district offices pictured in April 2021.

A monthslong process entailing school closures, staffing reductions, and contract negotiations for certified and classified personnel is expected to culminate with the adoption of the 2023-24 budget at Monday night’s Lawrence school board meeting.

As part of its agenda, the board is slated to hold its budget hearing, adopt budget resolutions, as well as vote on whether to adopt a resolution to exceed the revenue neutral rate. The mill levy is up by just over a mill at 52.229 for a budget that includes $242.73 million in total expenditures.

The district is also expected to see an infusion of millions in new revenue to its coffers. As previously reported by the Journal-World, the district is anticipating roughly $7.8 million in new funding over last year due to budget-slashing measures that included a reduction of 48 secondary teaching positions, the closure of two elementary schools, as well as a $4 million increase over last year in K-12 education funding.

As reported by the Journal-World in July, board members and district officials have said that those measures paved the way for a “historic pay increase” for both certified and classified staff. The classified salary pool was increased by 16.7% — followed by the certified staff pool at 8.1%, and the administrative pool by 5.5%.

According to the agenda, the board is also scheduled to consider:

• Approving a contract for the installation of a solar system at Prairie Park Elementary as part of a pilot program. Documents in the agenda packet show that Larry Englebrick, the district’s chief operations officer, is recommending a bid of $240,590 from Cromwell Environmental Inc. DBA/Cromwell Solar for the project.

As reported by the Journal-World in May, the Futures Planning Committee, a 39-member committee that included community members, teachers, staff and administrators, recommended that the district consider the use of solar energy and/or other renewable energy in the district as part of its budget recommendation to the school board.

The energy recommendation received the highest level of support from the committee, with 87% of the members voting in support. During committee meetings, some members discussed the possibility of federal programs or grants that could offset capital costs of solar panel installations. Some comments compiled from the committee as part of the process included the need for more investigation regarding costs, savings and implementation.

The school board meets at 6 p.m. Monday at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.


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