In 2010 and 2011, the district laid off a total of 66 employees, including several administrators. Some of the remaining administrators now have twice as many responsibilities.
To help close next year’s projected budget deficit, school administration and central office clerical staff will be consolidated, the World Language program for fifth- and sixth-graders will be eliminated and there will be one less kindergarten class, Schall said, adding that the total amount that could be saved is still being calculated.
The superintendent said that student clubs will not be cut. The cost of those extracurricular activities is $800,000, Schall said. “We are not going to make reductions on the backs of the kids,” he said.
Board of Education President Dr. Asher Mansdorf said that given all the challenges the district faces — from dealing with the 2 percent cap, to contractual obligations, to paying for several unfunded state mandates, to the costs associated with Hurricane Sandy — it is difficult to generate enough money to maintain staff, programs and services.
“The only way to increase revenue is by increasing taxes or, at one point, increasing revenue or judiciously cutting costs,” said Mansdorf, adding that the problems Lawrence is experiencing are not unique. “The last couple of years, school districts have sold buildings, and there have been a number of layoffs everywhere. Each year is a balance.”
Lawrence has entered into an agreement to sell the Number Six School to the Simone Development Companies for $12.5 million, though the sale is subject to a public referendum. Should it be approved — the vote took place on Wednesday, after press time — the sale would have no impact on the 2013-14 budget, Schall said, though the proceeds could be used to offset shortfalls in future budgets.
Lawrence district budgets
School Year Budget Tax levy Tax levy increase
2010-11 $94.1M $78.9M 4.9%
2011-12 &78.9M $93.1M 0%
2012-13 $93.1M $80.5M 2%*
2013-14** $92.1M $82.1M 2&
*First-year of state tax-levy cap
** Proposed budget