How many jobs the Wichita school district will cut was still uncertain Monday night despite passage of a new state budget, superintendent John Allison told school board members.
Allison has already proposed more than $14 million in cuts. He said the House budget bill, which was approved by the Senate on Monday and sent to the governor, may make further cuts unnecessary.
"I've not seen copies of that," Allison said of the final budget. "I'm a little hesitant to be too optimistic.... The devil is in the details."
The House budget partly counts on federal money that Kansas doesn't have a guarantee of receiving, he said.
"If they don't come to fruition, we're looking at cuts as the year moves forward," Allison said.
The district must notify teachers who will lose their jobs next school year by May 21. Allison originally planned on announcing the cuts on Monday, but he decided to postpone them because of budget discussions in Topeka.
Board members voted unanimously Monday to close Metro-Midtown Alternative High School to help counter anticipated budget shortfalls next school year.
The closing is expected to save the district $1 million. Current Metro-Midtown students are meeting with counselors and will have an option to attend one of the district's two remaining alternative high schools next year.
"This recommendation not only allows us to save an additional dollar amount, but it's also one of the only ones (where) we didn't have to curtail services because we can meet the needs of the students at other metros," Allison said.
In other matters, the board approved a $7.7 million contract with Coonrod and Associates Construction to build the new north elementary school, funded by the $370 million bond issue that voters approved in 2008. Construction is set to start this summer, with doors opening in fall 2012.
The new 450-student school will be built on the site of the Arkansas Avenue building at 3361 N. Arkansas. The old building will be torn down in June.
The district is working with the city to upgrade and expand 33rd Street North to serve as a drop-off area, said Kenton Cox of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey, the architecture firm working as bond project planners.
The project bid came in $1 million under the original bond plan budget, district officials said.
The district is still discussing where to place the roughly 60 students in the Arkansas Avenue-Gateway alternative programs, district spokeswoman Susan Arensman said. The school now houses the programs for regular and special education students in middle and high school who have been suspended or expelled from their assigned school.