A new finance committee formed by the Leavenworth Board of Education is looking to cut about $1.5 million from the school district's budget.

A new finance committee formed by the Leavenworth Board of Education is looking to cut about $1.5 million from the school district's budget.

The committee, which includes three members of the Leavenworth school board, had its inaugural meeting Thursday afternoon.

"The district is going to have to cut an awful lot of money," school board member Doug Darling said.

Darling is serving as chairman of the new committee.

He said the committee only will be making recommendations to school board.

"This is not the group that is going to make the decision," Darling said of the committee.

He plans for the committee to report its recommendations to the board in February. The potential cuts would be for the 2014-2015 school year budget.

Darling said people's livelihoods may be impacted by the committee's recommendations.

He said about 80 percent of the district's budget goes to paying salaries. He said the district has been cutting around the edges for a long time.

When the district makes cuts in the future, some people's jobs may be at risk, Darling said.

"People are going to be upset, and I don't blame them," he said.

He said this is serious business.

Darling is joined on the committee by board members Loyal Torkelson and Mike Carney. Carney was absent during Thursday's meeting.

The 21-member committee also includes three principals, teachers and other staff members.

Chief Financial Officer Kevin Gullett and Treasurer Beth Mattox reviewed the district's budget during Thursday's meeting. Gullett identified cost increases that could lead to a budget shortfall of more than $1 million for the 2014-2015 school year. These include things such as increases in insurance and utilities costs as well as possible expenses associated with the federal Affordable Care Act.

Among the potential increases he identified is money that would be used for pay raises. While he included this expenditure in his presentation, Gullett acknowledged that he struggles with the idea cutting people's jobs in order to give remaining employees raises.

Several other committee meetings are scheduled during December, January and February. Darling said committee members will be able to anonymously make suggestions for areas to cut.

Other district personnel will have a similar opportunity.

"Good ideas can come from anybody," Darling said.