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Lawrence School Board Considers Closing Some Schools to Bridge Budget Gap

The Lawrence School Board is considering whether to close and consolidate several elementary and middle schools in order to bridge a multi-million dollar budget deficit. A group called Save Our Schools doesn't want any Lawrence school to close and hopes to convince the board to look elsewhere for savings. School officials say decreasing enrollment has led to an estimated deficit of $7 million and it will be hard to balance the budget without closing any buildings.  

We'll hear from both sides of the debate.  

In Part 1 of this two-part series, KPR's J. Schafer speaks with the superintendent of USD 497, Dr. Anthony Lewis. He blames decreasing enrollment - the loss of some 600 students - for the district's financial woes.

That was Dr. Anthony Lewis, superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools. He was speaking with KPR's J. Schafer. 

In Part 2, KPR's J. Schafer speaks with Alicia Erickson, one of the organizers of Save Our Schools.

That was Alicia Erickson, a member of the group Save Our Schools. Erickson has two children at Woodlawn Elementary, one of the schools under consideration for closure. Other schools under consideration include Broken Arrow, Hillcrest, New York, Pinckney and Liberty Memorial Central Middle School. Save Our Schools will hold a rally Saturday afternoon in South Park. The group will also stage a protest Monday before the Lawrence School Board's next meeting.

Additional reporting, from the Lawrence Journal-World:

Lawrence School District Presents 3 Possible Budget-Cut Packages; Two Would Close Schools, Other Would Cut 117 Staff Members 

Lawrence School Board to Hold Special Meeting February 21 to Consider School Closures, other Potential Budget Cuts

J. Schafer is the News Director of Kansas Public Radio. He’s also the Managing Editor of the Kansas Public Radio Network, which provides news and information to other public radio stations in Kansas and Missouri.