Lawrence school budget remains the same


Should you glance at the box that highlights the last five years of Lawrence school budgets you will see the identical figures for three years of budgets, four years of the tax levy and two years of the tax-cap increase.

Natural skepticism would trigger the question: How could the school district do that, especially during a time of rising costs of nearly everything and supply chain issues because of the coronavirus pandemic?

“There are rising costs, but simultaneously there are decreases in some costs which gives us flexibility in delivering a top-notch education with a balanced budget,” said Jeremy Feder, Lawrence’s assistant superintendent of business and operations.

For the record the proposed 2022-2023 operating budget for the Lawrence School District is $102.490 million. The tax-cap increase is flat and the amount of money raised by properties taxes – the tax levy – also remains the same as the current fiscal plan. State aid to Lawrence went up 1.4 percent to $13.011 million.

Feder said that along with financially supporting the contracted portions of the budget such as teachers, administrators and other staff, the fiscal plan includes money for renovations of classrooms, the athletic wing and library, installation of air conditioning, upgrades to the heating and ventilation system and other site improvements.

At Lawrence Middle School, which is part of the Broadway Campus that also houses the elementary school, the budget supports renovations to the cafeteria, classrooms and gymnasium, locker replacement, installation of air conditioning and improvements to the heating and ventilation system and other site upgrades. There will also be site improvements at the Lawrence Primary School and districtwide telephone and security updates.

Lawrence Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen said that the aim of the budget is to match the mission statement that includes ensuring that all the students reach their highest potential.

The children learn new skills and how to adapt, how to use those skills to solve problems, how to communicate and be part of a team and along with social emotional learning they develop the ability to be flexible and have empathy for others.

Current enrollment in the five district schools is 2,366 and there are 6,219 nonpublic school students across the school district.

“This is reflected in the work we do,” she said. “It continues the excellent learning opportunities for students, while remaining fiscally responsible.”

The district will vote to adopt the preliminary budget at the April 11 Board of Education meeting. A budget hearing is scheduled for May 3 and the budget vote and trustee election is on May 17.