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Lawrence school district’s Futures Planning Committee to discuss enrollment, school boundaries

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The Lawrence school district’s committee for budget and facility planning will meet Wednesday to discuss future enrollment, which a consultant projects will steadily decrease.

The Futures Planning Committee — made up of students, parents and community members as well as district administrators and staff members — is tasked with providing input as the district plans its budget priorities for the 2023-24 school year. 

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As part of Wednesday’s meeting, the committee will hear a presentation from RSP & Associates, the outside consultant hired on a $120,000 contract to provide the district with a five-year student enrollment projection, a development and housing analysis, a demographic profile of the district, and facility usage recommendations based on the data collected. 

Wednesday’s presentation includes an enrollment analysis and projections as well as an analysis of school boundaries, as building closures may be considered.

According to RSP’s projections, district enrollment is estimated to steadily decrease, losing just more than 300 students over the next five years. Elementary school enrollments are forecasted to decrease by 20 students in five years; middle schools by 130 students; and high schools by 170 students, according to the presentation.

Enrollment is the key metric in the district’s funding from the state. In general, as enrollment decreases, so does the funding the district receives.

During a school board meeting on Nov. 7, RSP CEO Rob Schwarz updated the board on the Futures Planning Committee’s progress. The committee decided on three financial priorities for the district, including to achieve competitive wages for staff, to allocate funds for annual cost increases and to increase district cash balances. 

The school board during the meeting agreed with those priorities as well as provided some direction to the committee, saying the group’s “responsibility is to focus on ‘bigger picture work.’” 

During Wednesday’s Futures Planning Committee meeting, members will decide on an “ultimate belief statement” to encompass financial, teaching and learning, and facilities priorities, according to a document outlining homework for committee members ahead of the meeting. They will then write goals to support that statement. 

Here is the full presentation for the meeting:

Homework_2223-EA-Summary

The committee is scheduled to meet from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. The meeting is open for public observation but not public commentary. There is no option to watch the meeting via livestream.

Visit the district’s website for more information about the committee.

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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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