LAWRENCE, Kan. — Parents and teachers are rallying outside the Lawrence School District Board of Education meeting Monday evening.

Some families and staff members are concerned over recommendations to close three school facilities and repurpose another one. But that’s not the only change that could happen in the district.

In a letter to families and employees posted on the district’s website, Lawrence School District’s superintendent said he plans to recommend cutting staff positions and closing those buildings. He said the changes have to be made to strengthen the district for the future.

He said he also supports transitioning to a four-day student week, five-day staff week and for the district to begin using renewable energy to help save money.

“Much like we do with our own personal budgets, the school district must tighten its belt and direct our limited financial resources to protecting what we value most – high-quality teachers and staff in every classroom supporting student achievement and success,” Anthony Lewis, Lawrence School District Superintendent, said.

He goes on to write that based on data, the Lawrence School District isn’t expected to grow much for at least five years. At that point the community may see families moving into the area because of the Panasonic Plant being developed in De Soto.

“Projections indicate our enrollment will drop by 300 students by 2027-2028. Lower enrollment means less funding. The district simply cannot afford to continue to operate this inefficiently,” Lewis said.

The recommendations are the results of a five-month study of the district and its current, and future, needs. The school board also took into account feedback from public input sessions last month, according to the district.

“We understand school closings are emotional losses for students, staff, families, and communities. We love our schools, too. Our staff has worked hard to build strong relationships across the community and provide effective schools where students feel safe and welcome and experience success,” Lewis said.

The plan will close Broken Arrow, Pinckney and Woodlawn elementary schools. It would also repurpose Liberty Memorial Central Middle School. Lewis said the district will save about $4.5 million by closing the buildings. That money will be put toward higher pay for teachers.

Families and staff who don’t agree with the plan are circulating a petition in hopes of preventing the closures.

“Our kids, they have their community in their schools,” parent Lindsey Yankey said. “And with these school closures, these kids are gonna be looking at being dispersed all across town and probably be a domino effect of other students across town.”

Yankey said she’s going to put up a fight because her son’s school, Woodlawn Elementary, is one of three schools projected to close.

“We’re trying to raise him to be resilient and go with the flow and know what we can fight for but also know when we’ve gotta go with the flow,” Yankey said. “But this is something that I’m not willing to stop fighting for yet.”

She’s one of dozens of parents and employees upset.

They will gather for a “Save our Schools” rally outside Monday night’s school board meeting at the Educational Support Center building at 110 McDonald Drive. The rally will take place from 5-6 p.m.

“School closures are almost irreversible,” parent Alicis Erickson said. “You don’t go back and open a school once it closes. Once a school is out of a neighborhood, it can affect housing value. It can affect what businesses open or don’t open there.”

Parents like Erickson said they have many concerns, bringing up transportation, safety and impact school closures have on students’ mental health.

“We’re advocating for cuts higher up, further away from the students and for them to really aggressively explore renewable energies as two examples,” Erickson said.

The school board plans to vote on committee’s proposal during its meeting Monday evening.