LAWRENCE, Kan. (WDAF) — As a part of budget cuts in Lawrence Public Schools, in the fall, some teachers will have students from multiple grade levels in the same classroom.
Some parents will have to wait until August to find out if their children are affected.
Also, next school year, Lawrence Public Schools will have the equivalent of 72 fewer teaching staff members than the school year before.
Kristen Ryan, executive director of Human Resources for Lawrence Public Schools, said the cuts were handled sensitively and that the teacher cuts were widely covered by retirements and employees leaving the district.
“Two-thirds of that $6.4 million reduction needed to be reduced from our current staffing,” Ryan said during Monday’s meeting of the board of education.
The impact, according to district staff, is that there will be increases in class sizes, reduced elective options for students, additional prep needed for some teachers, and delayed master scheduling planning.
“I’m also imagining you’re a teacher learning in august that you’re going to have a multi-grade classroom. I’m really alarmed by that ‘We’ll tell you in August’ piece,” school board member Kelly Jones said.
The potential for multi-grade classrooms feels ‘anxiety-provoking’ for parents who will need to wait until August for full enrollment numbers to learn what’s in store for their children,” Jones said.
“That feels a little late in the game to let a parent know, particularly if their student, it just isn’t a good match,” Jones said.
District administration said they are working to prepare parents for the possibility.
“So if they do have to receive that letter that their child may be in the multi … have the opportunity to be in the multi-age class, multi-grade class, they have some kind of background knowledge on what to expect,” Dr. Anthony S. Lewis, Superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools, said.
The district has posted a brochure on its website — sharing its position that the research it is relying on shows no difference in academic achievement for students in multi-grade classrooms versus straight-age classrooms.