Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.
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Recent discussions regarding the budget for USD 497 are presenting untenable options for the school board. There is certainly some opportunity to reduce administrative staff; however, this is a stopgap measure. The lack of employment stability in the district will accelerate turnover, and I believe it will have long-term impact that will prove to be very expensive.
It is unfortunate that the possibility of closing schools was taken off the table based on the claims of equity issues in the community. The definition of equity should include a review of the student/teacher ratio for each school. The website publicschoolreview.com calculates this ratio for every school in the district. A sample shows Quail Run (19:1) and Langston Hughes (18:1) on the high end of the scale with New York (12:1) and Hillcrest (10:1) at the low end of the scale. These disparities will continue as the district loses funding from declining enrollment and increasing costs due to inflation.
At some point in the near future, the community must face the reality that some school consolidation must take place to make the school district budget sustainable.
Rob Chestnut (he/him), Lawrence
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”It is understandable that everybody has different priorities, but we can assume that public safety is high on almost everybody’s list. This is why your Lawrence Professional Firefighters have confidence in the three incumbent candidates,” the IAFF Local 1596 executive board writes in this column.