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Lawrence USD 497 considering closing schools due to budget shortfalls over $3 million

Posted at 11:04 PM, Jan 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-24 00:05:58-05

LAWERENCE, Kan. — Save Our Schools 497 has a clear message for USD 497 Lawrence Public Schools board members.

“We want the district to hear us loud and clear that they need to vote 'no' on any school closures," said Alicia Erikson, a mother of two. “Mainly to support our staff, our teachers, our students and show that we don’t believe there is any route where schools need to be closed."

Save Our Schools 497 has frustrations with the district that stem from announcements that recently came down from board leaders. Tough decisions are going to have to be made due to budget shortfalls of an estimated $3.2 to $3.85 million dollars.

Erica Hill, president of the Lawrence School Board, shared a statement with KSHB 41 News.

“We acknowledge that loss may be felt throughout the community related to the upcoming budget decisions, whether it’s from closing a school or cutting programs," Hill's statement said. "The district will continue to update the community as we navigate through these challenging discussions."

However, Erickson says she's concerned about how these possible closures will impact her kids.

“Schools are really the lifeblood of the communities, and these small neighborhoods, and are an important place," Erickson said. "They are not just a safe harbor for the students but for parents who need each other and make those connections."

Understanding that COVID-19 has impacted districts across the area, Erickson says she and others simply want the district to weigh out all options.

“If they could meet this budget shortfall for one year, and in that year give space for the community to work with them, give space to look at other proposals, proposals such as payouts or position reduction and combination at the central administration level,” Erickson said.

Members and supporters of Save Our Schools 497 plan to rally outside of the district's headquarters at 4:30 p.m. Monday before bringing their concerns to the board's 6 p.m. meeting.