Post updated at 4:56 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16:
Lawrence community members are invited to participate in two public input sessions this week to discuss a tentative school district budget proposal that includes four-day school weeks and closures of three schools.
During the latest meeting of the Futures Planning Committee, which is tasked with working on the district’s budget planning process this year, committee members voted on an updated budget reduction package that includes shortened weeks, closing two elementary schools and a middle school, making administrative cuts and utilizing renewable solar power in buildings, among other considerations. No specific buildings have been pinpointed for possible closures.
The package would save the district between an estimated $7.6 million to $9.6 million, and the district must make $9 million in cuts to achieve its top financial priority of achieving competitive staff wages next year and beyond. Read more about the Jan. 11 meeting at this link.
For the first 30 minutes of each public input session, RSP & Associates — the consulting firm hired by the district to facilitate budget planning for next year — will discuss the budget scenario being considered as well as present on the Futures Planning Committee’s progress, financial priorities and upcoming plans.
During the remaining hour of the session, attendees will be encouraged to walk around and browse stations that will be set up with large posters of information. The Futures Planning Committee will record public feedback and questions on sticky notes as people stop by to have discussions with committee members, RSP facilitators and district administrators. RSP planner Ginna Wallace said during last week’s meeting that the sessions will be strictly informative.
“We’re explaining the facts,” Wallace said during the meeting. “We’re not swaying or convincing. We’re listening to their input and explaining how we got here to this point.”
The public input sessions are scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17 at Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive, and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 at Lawrence High School, 1901 Louisiana St.
District staff, students and parents as well as members of the greater community are all welcome to ask questions and share comments in one or both of these sessions.
AmeriCorps members will provide child care to school-age children during both sessions, and the district will have an online feedback link posted at both sessions, district spokesperson Julie Boyle said.
Read more coverage to get up to speed on the district’s budget process at this link. Learn more about the Futures Planning Committee on the district’s website.
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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.