The Lawrence school board is set to review district administrators’ latest cost-cutting suggestions during a special budget work session Tuesday.
The district is facing a budget shortfall estimated between $3.2 and $3.85 million dollars, though the school board is looking to make around $7 million in cuts to address staff compensation and depleted reserve funds.
A presentation in Tuesday’s meeting agenda, however, suggests that with an estimated loss of funding from declining enrollment, plus increases in property/liability insurance and utility costs, the district will need to save between $3.62 and $4.27 million.
The board ultimately requested that district administrators make recommendations for budget savings prioritized by those that are least harmful to students. Among the top 10 items district administrators are prioritizing for cuts, according to documents released on March 11, are the high school gymnastics program, four high school staff positions, a restructuring of administrative staff, and reductions to some supply and utility budgets.
Other recommendations further down the list of 23 items, totaling about $6.45 million, include a reorganization of library/media, a restructuring of the AVID program at the high school level, adjusting some ratios, and reducing an additional six positions at the high schools. See the full list of recommended cuts, and the ideas that administrators are recommending against, at this link.
Board members plan to begin making decisions about budget reductions at their regularly scheduled March 28 meeting, district spokesperson Julie Boyle said via email ahead of spring break. The board must notify teachers and administrators by May 20 if their contracts won’t be renewed, but Samrie Devin, outgoing executive director of human resources, said district employees need to know sooner than that, and board members agreed.
In order to determine the latest list of cuts, Boyle’s email explained, the district’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) invited school administrators to submit new ideas and review the Budget and Program Evaluation (BPEC) subcommittees’ proposals. Administrators reviewed the proposals and assessed the impacts on “equity and meeting students’ unique academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs,” and the ELT used that feedback to develop the recommendations for the school board, according to Boyle’s email.
Tuesday’s meeting will not include an opportunity for public comment, but the regularly scheduled March 28 meeting will. Meetings will start at 6 p.m. at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, and they will be livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel. Agendas can be found at this link.