The Lawrence school board is set for a special meeting on Monday to discuss cost-cutting proposals as the district faces a budget shortfall estimated between $3.2 and $3.85 million.
Board members on Feb. 14 decided to take school closures off the table for the coming school year. They still aim to cut about $7 million from the budget in order to fund pay raises for district staff and begin to rebuild depleted contingency funds, but legally, they must balance the budget — meaning eliminate the shortfall — by July 1.
“The Board will receive information from the completed ThoughtExchange, budgetary requirements and the upcoming Board of Education calendar,” according to the meeting agenda.
The district opened a ThoughtExchange online survey on Feb. 9 for community members to share their thoughts on the budget process. No reports or materials had been uploaded to accompany the budget discussion agenda item as of noon Sunday.
Board members last week indicated that they thought cost-cutting options that had been presented to them were not where they wanted to be looking for cuts. They asked staff to look for cuts that would have the smallest effect on students’ daily lives.
“Administration will gather feedback from Board members that will be used to articulate a process for identifying, prioritizing, and approving budgetary cuts for the 2022-23 school year and efficiencies for the future,” according to the agenda for Monday’s meeting.
Board members will hear public comment during the meeting. Those interested in providing public comment virtually can email firstname.lastname@example.org by 6 p.m. the day of the meeting to receive a link to join via videoconference.
The meeting will start at 6 p.m. Monday at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Meetings are open to the public, livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel and broadcast on Midco channel 26. Full meeting agendas are available at this link.
The board will meet again on Monday, Feb. 28, to hear a legislative update from State Board of Education member Ann Mah, whose district includes Lawrence.