Lawrence school board to kick off budget season with update on school finance bill

photo by: Nick Krug

Lawrence Public Schools district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.

The Kansas Legislature approved Gov. Laura Kelly’s school finance plan just in time for Kathy Johnson, the Lawrence school district’s executive director of finance, to provide a budget update to the school board on Monday.

It’s still uncertain whether the plan, which the House approved 76-47 and Senate approved 31-8 last week, will hold up under the Kansas Supreme Court’s scrutiny, the Associated Press reported.

However, the plan would increase statewide funding by roughly $90 million per year. Kelly signed the bill on Saturday, according to a news release from her office.


April 8, 2019: $3.85M boost in funding from Legislature offset by Lawrence schools’ needs; school board begins to consider options to check deficit spending

The key legal question is whether the state is spending enough money for lawmakers to meet an obligation under the Kansas Constitution to finance a suitable education for every child, the AP reported.

Johnson will update the school board on the timelines for the legislation, the court case, the budget planning process and more during their Monday meeting and regularly, as the process moves forward through the spring and summer.

In other business:

• The board will hear a report from the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department on health equity, and “how the opportunity for health in Lawrence is dependent upon controllable factors such as education,” according to the board’s agenda.

• Leah Wisdom, the district’s director of equity, student services and instruction, will give a report on the district’s instructional coaching model and training. Instructional coaches partner with teachers to improve teaching and learning, set goals and provide support to meet the goals, according to a presentation in the board’s agenda.

• Prior to the 6 p.m. regular meeting, the school board and Boundary Advisory Committee will have a 5 p.m. work session to review an enrollment analysis from the educational planning firm RSP.

• On the board’s consent agenda, meaning items considered routine enough to be voted on with one motion, is a rate schedule that will pay teachers their regular hourly rate for working summer school. Previously, the rate has been a flat $21 per hour.

• Also on the consent agenda are change orders, or changes to construction projects that require the projects’ budgets to be updated. Changes in construction at Free State High School would add $911,089 to that contract; changes at Billy Mills and Southwest middle schools would add $9,593, for a total of $920,682.

• The board will have an executive session on employer-employee negotiations.

The school board will meet for a 5 p.m. work session and 6 p.m. regular meeting on Monday at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Agenda materials are available via

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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