Lawrence school board sets special meeting to consider school closures, other budget proposals

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Article last updated at 7:49 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8:

Lawrence school board President Erica Hill has called a special meeting of the board to discuss cost-cutting proposals, which could include school closures.

The special meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21, and it will be in addition to the regular meeting set for Feb. 14.


If board members choose to keep the option of closing schools on the table, they will need to hold public hearings. With the revised timeline, those hearings would be tentatively set for March 21-23, according to an email to school families from district spokesperson Julie Boyle.

“Adding this Special Meeting and revising the timeline gives the board more time to review budget proposals. The board also will invite additional public comment during this meeting,” Hill said, according to Boyle’s email.

“I understand that the examination of school closure scenarios as part of the budget planning process makes for difficult and emotional discussions for our community. I know the board and administration appreciate, as I do, the community’s input and advocacy on behalf of our schools. I also want to thank staff and community members for their service on advisory committees during this process.” 

The district has been considering numerous proposals to cut costs as it faces a budget shortfall between $3.2 and $3.85 million for the coming year. The proposals that appear to yield the greatest monetary savings for the district involve closing multiple schools — a very difficult prospect for many school families and staff members. 

The district’s Budget and Program Evaluation Committee (BPEC) is set to meet from 4 to 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. At that meeting, members of that committee and others who have been invited will examine cost-cutting proposals with an equity analysis tool.

The school board’s next regular meeting is set for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14.

All meetings are open to the public, though district committees do not take public comment. The school board generally does not accept public comment during special meetings, so if all goes as planned, the Feb. 21 meeting will likely be a departure from standard procedure. District meetings are also livestreamed on YouTube.

School board agendas are posted at this link, usually the Thursday evening prior to the Monday meeting. Agendas had not yet been published for the upcoming meetings as of Tuesday night.

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