LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Lawrence school board is looking at another way to solve budget issues that could include cutting schools.
The school board is considering hiring a consultant to look at future enrollment and the use of school buildings in the district.
The consulting firm is RSP and Assoc. If approved, RPS would provide 5-year enrollment projections, a development and housing analysis and a demographic profile for the district.
The team would also include a community engagement process to talk future educational needs, the district’s wants and available financial resources.
All of this could cost $120,000.
Parent Suzie Johannes, with “Save Our Schools,” said that major expense might not be the best idea.
“Obviously, hiring a consultant comes with a price tag and that’s unfortunate because we’re trying to save hundreds of thousands of dollars here and there when we can,” Johannes said.
In February, the district was facing a $7 million shortfall due to low enrollment and loss of funding.
The district said last spring, the school board reduced the budget by $6.4 million to bridge the gap.
There was discussion of closing six schools in the district in February. Board members shut down that idea for now, but it’s not off the table. Board members want to hear from the community first:
“We as a board had decided that we were going to slow down the conversation and kind of just re-look at how we can reengage our community,” Kay Emerson said. “We are stronger when we hear from you. So, stay engaged and reach out because we’re here and we need your help.”
If the board hires the consulting firm, Johannes hopes a comprehensive boundary analysis is included.
“So, when we’re looking at closing one school versus another, it’s also important to see that we haven’t actually looked at the boundaries of who’s being enrolled in those schools for a very long time.”