Lawrence school board to discuss budget for next school year, plus a change in meeting schedule

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence Public Schools district offices pictured in April 2021.

The Lawrence school board will soon hear how the school district’s finances are shaping up as it heads into the 2021-22 school year.

During its meeting on Monday, the board will receive an update from the district’s finance director, Kathy Johnson, on the district’s financial closing of the last school year’s budget. Johnson will also outline the budget estimates that are being used to prepare next year’s budget, according to a memo to the board.

As of Friday, a presentation on the budget report was not available in the meeting agenda.

The district’s budget situation had been a topic of discussion during the last school year as the coronavirus pandemic led to a decrease in enrollment, causing a funding deficit.

In April, the school district approved a plan to close Kennedy Elementary School and move its students to neighboring elementary schools. The district plans to use the facility as an early-childhood education center, but a significant reason for the closure was to save the district money,about $720,000, as it faced a $1.2 million budget shortfall caused by the enrollment drop.

But the district also recently learned that it will receive about $6 million in additional pandemic relief. That funding, however, can be used only for costs associated with the pandemic over the next few years.

The district indicated that it wants to use those dollars toward supporting school intervention programs and mental health services, among other things, the Journal-World previously reported.


In other business, the board will discuss its 2021-22 meeting calendar, which proposes meeting once a month in person and then meeting a second time virtually, if necessary.

Traditionally, the board meets in person twice a month — on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. But the pandemic disrupted that process and the board began to meet virtually for months, much like other local government agencies.

The proposed meeting schedule shows the board meeting in person on the second Monday of each month, then meeting virtually on the fourth Monday, if necessary. The board is not expected to take final action on the new meeting schedule until its first meeting in July.

The board will also meet for a work session to discuss the progress of the district’s strategic plan.

The school board will meet at 5 p.m. Monday in the new boardroom at the district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. The meeting is open to the public, but the district may limit attendance because of the pandemic.

Those who attend will be required to wear masks, have their temperatures checked and physically distance from others. The district also encourages the public to watch the meeting on Midco channel 26 or online at youtube.com/USD497.

Those who want to speak during public comments but won’t attend the meeting can still do so. The district asks for comments to be sent by email to PatronCommentary@usd497.org. Comments can also be emailed to board members ahead of the meeting. Their contact information is available on the district’s website at usd497.org/Board.


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