Safety concerns are up, budget deficit $3.7 million in Lawrence school district
Lawrence schools is undertaking a review of it security measures after the Newtown, Conn. shooting. Superintendent Gary Schall, above, said the district is looking at an estimated $3.7 million deficit as budget planning begins.
Budget and security were the primary topics discussed at the Lawrence schools’ town hall meeting in the high school’s Little Theater on Jan. 8.
The district wants to upgrade its safety measures after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., but money is needed to pay for security improvements and already there is a financial hole as the proposed fiscal plan for the 2013-’14 school year is being put together.
Superintendent Gary Schall said rolling over the current budget without making allowances for increases in payroll, benefits and an expense such as fuel has the budget to budget increase at $6.5 million. Subtract approximately $2.8 million in revenue and there remains a $3.7 million deficit.
“Knowing that the tax levy-cap [of 2 percent] will be firm gives us a definite framework,” said Schall, adding that the district must begin projecting expenses and potential revenue for five years.
An infusion of revenue could be produced by the sale of the Number One School. “We are very comfortable of where we are, we have made big decisions and carved out what we need carved out,” Schall said. “The next step for administration is to meet with all of the stakeholder groups in a small setting about the budget items that relate to them.”
The district is reviewing its security procedures with the idea of what can be done in the short-term, then what long-range plans could be implemented. “There is a heightened level of urgency, we need to tighten security,” said Schall, adding that examining what is in place, how to ensure security and safety, looking at securing entrances at each of the five buildings, personnel and security training is all on the table.
Some parents at the meeting advocated for armed security. Atlantic Beach resident Richard Libbey, who has a child in the district, doesn’t think that armed security is the answer, but what the children are taught and allowing guns to be available should be considered.