LAWRENCE, Kan. (WDAF) — Lawrence Public Schools is considering closing schools to keep up with funding cuts due in part to declining enrollment.
District leaders say four scenarios are on the table for the Board of Education to deal with this. All involve closing schools and/or shuffling students to other schools in the district.
“I want to reiterate again, these are only scenarios, starting points,” said Dr. Larry Englebrick, the district’s interim chief operations officer. “No decisions have been made; no recommendations have been made.”
Englebrick made the comments at a Boundary Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday.
“The budget conversations we’re having and the need for reductions is a direct result of student enrollment and enrollment weighting, dropping,” Executive Finance Director Kathy Johnson added.
Johnson said the funding gap going into the 2022-23 school year is likely between $3.2-3.7 million.
The school mentioned more than all the others in the proposals is Broken Arrow Elementary, which the district said was chosen because the building needs the most improvements and it fits their size requirements.
“To have her elementary school closed again, it’s a kick in the gut because now it’s just that much longer for her to go to school, and that much longer on a bus,” Lawrence parent Kristy Bellinger said.
Bellinger’s 2nd-grader could be moved from Broken Arrow to Schwegler Elementary. She already rides a bus for an hour and a half every day.
“A two-hour bus ride is what they’re proposing for this school,” Bellinger said.
Bellinger is a part of the Facebook group “Save Lawrence Neighborhood Schools,” which boasts nearly 1,000 members. Their message to the school district is simple.
“Look at any other option aside from closing schools,” Bellinger said.
The school board hopes to hold public hearings by the Feb. 14 board meeting and then have a plan in place in the coming months.
District offices were closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. FOX4 reached out to every board member for comment, but none provided a statement or interview.