Lawrence school board to consider giving administration ability to furlough some staff during remote learning period

photo by: Mackenzie Clark/Journal-World File Photo

The Lawrence Board of Education meeting room at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, is pictured in this file photo from Feb. 25, 2019.

The Lawrence school district may soon be able to furlough some staff who administration believes will not be needed during remote learning this fall.

The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider giving the district’s administration the ability to furlough classified staff — a category that includes custodians, office staff and other employees who aren’t teachers — as early as Tuesday and until students return to school buildings. In July, the board approved starting the school year on Sept. 8 with at least six weeks of remote learning because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A furlough is a temporary leave of absence for an employee. In this case, the district would be able to retain a staff member’s employment but not have them work or receive pay for a certain period of time.

In a memo to the board, Human Resources Executive Director David Cunningham said that the board’s decision to begin in remote learning means “it is not necessary for all staff to be present.” He said the ability to furlough employees would give the district the ability to determine the number of staff necessary to meet the district’s needs during the remote learning period and be able bring back staff to their positions when needed.

In other business, the board will meet during a work session with its task force working on a plan on how to reopen schools this fall. During that meeting, the board and task force will also discuss safety precautions related to fall sports.

Despite the school year beginning in September, the district previously announced it would follow the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s guidance on fall sports. That means athletics will begin the week of Aug. 17, about three weeks before the academic year begins.

Board President Kelly Jones previously told the Journal-World that the board asked the administration for details on how it will work to keep students safe in fall sports.

The board will also hold a public hearing and consider giving final approval on its proposed budget.

During its July 27 meeting, the board gave initial approval to the 2020-2021 school year budget. Kathy Johnson, executive director of finance, said the proposed budget includes a 0.497 increase to the mill levy, for a total of 53.481 mills. For a $200,000 home, that’s a little more than an $11 increase in annual property tax.

The school board will meet at 5 p.m. Monday for a work session and 6 p.m. for its regular meeting through an online conference call. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district encourages the public to watch the meeting on Midco channel 26 or online at

Those who want to speak during public comments at the meeting can still do so. The school district asks for comments to be sent by email to by 6 p.m. the day of the meeting. Comments can also be emailed to board members ahead of the meeting. Their contact information is available on the district’s website at

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