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Lawrence school district seeks community input on budget cuts via online survey

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A public survey is asking community members to share their input on how the Lawrence school district should make budget cuts, including potentially closing and consolidating schools.

As discussed during Monday’s school board meeting, survey takers will be asked which of the three “bucket” items — or categories of budget expenditures — should take priority. Bucket 1 lists potential staffing cuts; Bucket 2 lists potential program or activity cuts; and Bucket 3 lists potential facility or utilization changes.

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The Community Engagement Survey is part of the district’s Futures Planning Committee work. It’s open for all members of the Lawrence community to participate.

“Please take the community survey, even if you do not have any children in school. Share it with others and encourage them to participate,” Superintendent Anthony Lewis said in a news release. “This survey is about the community’s vitality and the future of its public schools.”

Survey takers will also be asked to mark whether they support or do not support the Future Planning Committee’s goals regarding finance, teaching and learning, and facilities. Additionally, they will be asked what they envision for the future of the district. 

School board member Kelly Jones during Monday’s meeting shared concerns with the survey. She said it seems like a duplication of the district’s approach to its multimillion-dollar budget shortfall last year and that it does not encompass all the complexities of the issues at hand.

Rob Schwarz, CEO of RSP & Associates consulting firm said during the meeting that he felt the survey was an essential part of his team’s work with the committee and the public. 

Each response in the survey also allows for a 500-character maximum typed comment in which survey takers are encouraged to provide additional feedback or ask questions. Results “will inform the committee’s work to develop recommendations to present to the school board in February,” district spokesperson Julie Boyle said via email.

The survey can be accessed now at this link and will remain open until Friday, Nov. 18. It is available in English, Spanish, Arabic and Standard Chinese.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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