LAWRENCE, Kan. — Closing schools may be off the table but enough tough decisions are expected from school leaders in Lawrence, Kansas to make up a budget shortfall in the millions.

The Lawrence School Board held a meeting Monday night to discuss the budget shortfall.

The board’s charge is simple: What can we cut that causes the least amount of harm to the students’ education?

“We know our students have faced a tremendous amount of disruptions over the past two years and we are on track to continue to address their needs from an academic and social and emotional standpoint,” Lawrence Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis said. “So that’s going to be top of mind as we begin to think about those cuts. Where can be cut that has the least amount of pain for our students?”

During a two hour special meeting, the district agreed to return a prioritized list of proposed cuts and the repercussions those would have to the board by its March 28 meeting.

Lewis said another special meeting could be called before then, as well.

As FOX4 has reported, the board needs to make up about $7 million, about half coming from state enrollment related budget cuts and the other to increasing staff wages.

The board recently took the idea of closing as many as six schools off the table.

Alicia Erickson of the group “Save Our Schools” has always opposed closing schools. Now they’ve started a survey for anyone to choose where cuts could be made. Everything from altering class sizes to cutting certain school programs.

They’ll present their findings to the board but Erickson’s group has ideas.

“I think that’s the big question, what are they going to cut, how do they make up these shortfalls?” Erickson said.

“One of the main ones is to cut more central administration positions,” she said. “We think that instead of having 4 or 5 that are going to be completely canceled or gutted, it would make more sense to spread that out. So say take 10% spread it out across all activities and athletics so that no programs is lost.”

Whatever is done, students, parents and teachers may see a very different Lawrence School District in the next school year.

More tough choices that may have to be made, increasing fees for families for certain things and what impact that would have.

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