WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - In order to address a $42 million budget shortfall for next school year, Wichita Public Schools is looking at ways to balance the budget, including the closure of some elementary and middle schools.

The district says the shortfall comes as they are faced with declining enrollment, increasing costs, and the loss of pandemic-era 'Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief' funding. As it stands now, the district is built for 63,000 students, though current enrollment is at about 47,000. With the closures, the district hopes to save at least $16 million.

While the exact number of schools has yet to be finalized, Superintendent Kelly Bielefeld says the district is not looking to cut any teachers or staff, and any affected teachers and students will be moved to a different school within the district. In addition, the district will be working with parents and communicating with them directly in the coming months about what buildings are slated for closure. 

Multiple factors will be considered in the process, including facility condition, cost of repairs, enrollment and staffing challenges. The district says the average age of buildings in the district is around 60 years old.

A survey will be sent to residents this week to get community input.

Recommendations for what buildings should be closed will happen at the February 12 meeting. If the Board of Education decides to go through with the plan, it will be finalized before Spring Break.

For more details on the district's plan, click here.