what is happening?
In 2022, the school district identified the need to find savings to achieve various goals. As part of this effort, a Futures Planning Committee was assembled, and they were provided with a goal of finding:  
  • $9 million in savings over the next one to two years for competitive wages for staff.
  • $1 million in savings in the next year for annual cost increases.
  • $6.2 million in the next ten years to increase district cash balances.
On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the district will present the budget savings proposal to the school board. See the agenda here: http://go.boarddocs.com/ks/usd497/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=CP4UHQ7C2C53. The board will vote on the budget package on Monday, Feb. 27.
Please note: Areas of this site are out of date, and we are doing our best to update them.

We believe there are better ideas not
represented in the current budget proposal.

See this Lawrence times article for a good background to date: https://lawrencekstimes.com/2023/02/20/usd497bdpre-20230221/
It is important to note that the consultants ratings of the schools slated for closure is based on the district's statement that a four-section school (a school with four classes at every grade level) is the most efficient to run, as well as other factors about the facilities of each building. The condition of the facilities and the enrollment of the school is not as important in this rating than the classrooms (how many and how big).
See the ratings in this Lawrence Times Article.
The images in the above article show the composite score recommendations of the schools with weightings, and there's been some questions about what these weightings mean. Back in December, Futures Planning Committee members were instructed to create a rubric or measurement tool to rate the facilities of the district. It was kind of a "blind" exercise where small tables filled percentages in various columns, and the results from each of the small-group tables were combined into one weighting/matrix.

Not all ratings were included. One table with SOS members asked to add a column for equity, which was heavily weighted. The consultants removed it from the weighting system because the consultants said that would be accomplished through the district's equity tool, however that wasn't the case (More on that below). The categories for the weightings are based on the district's statement that a four-section school, one that has four classes at each grade level, is the most efficient to operate. And, so it means that smaller, older schools scored the poorest. A few points to make:
The images show the ratings of the elementary schools. Consultants said Central was the lowest scoring by a big margin. Again, members of the committee had asked for equity to be factored into the building scores, but they said that would be handled through the equity analysis. Then, when it came time to perform the equity analysis, closures to elementary schools (as a whole, not individually) was the focus of the activity.
On Feb. 15, the committee voted on the line items that were included on the proposal. You can read about the vote through the Lawrence Journal-World and the Lawrence Times.
There were other options surfaced by the committee, including grade centers (where some schools have K-2 and others 3-5 as an example) and a similar idea called "catchments," that looked to achieve the same efficiencies of scale, while leveraging our existing infrastructure and leaving our communities intact. Those ideas were never fully discussed or evaluated, due to the process the committee was forced to follow. See full list of ideas here.
As part of the process, the committee...

We believe there are other options than school closures, which are only part of the cuts:

What you can do


Join our group

Want to be added to the email list?

Join our Discord group

SOS 497 Public Discord Group
Created by parents of USD 497 students.
Email saveourschools497@gmail.com for more information.
Powered by Webflow