LAWRENCE, Kan. –Parents are rallying Monday in an effort to defeat a proposal to close six Lawrence, Kansas, schools. These parents say the schools need to stay open.

The school board is expected to consider four options; all involve closing schools or busing students to other schools in the district.

A group of parents called, “Save Our Neighborhood Schools,” are opposed to all of the options has formed. Members want the district to consider any option other than closing schools.

The school board president said the board faces a difficult decision to cut about $7 million from its budget. Declining enrollment is blamed for a drop in state funding for Lawrence Public Schools.

“In the last two years we have seen a dip in enrollment,” said Shannon Berquist, a parent of two children who attend Broken Arrow Elementary, one of the schools that may be closed. 

“Most of those families have left to either home school or do schooling virtually. Previous to that we were seeing growth in our east Lawrence schools every year leading up to COVID. So this dip in enrollment is directly linked to COVID,” Berquist said.

Berquist and other parents believe the enrollment dip is temporary and that families will come back to public schools as the pandemic subsides.

They want the district to request federal American Rescue Plan Act funds from Douglas County to cover the budget shortfall for the next year or two.

Parents will rally at 4:30 p.m. before the school board meets to consider how to address the budget deficit.