Sunday, June 28, 2009

Despite Statewide Budget Slashing, Board Approves 7.0% Increases

As expected, the School Board voted to approve the contract agreement with its teachers this past Monday. Only board member Al Slane was either brave enough or honest enough to vote "NO".

The STAR attributes the following summation to Phil Frei,deputy district administrator of business operations: "The SPEA ratified the contract on June 12 with "overwhelming support," [Sheeee--aaahhh! From the "Color Me Surprised" Department: Like who would have voted AGAINST such a deal!]

The 3.8 percent increase is not a straight raise on salary, said McCourt. "The first year it will be the salary, because the health care costs are staying down," McCourt added. "But those are expected to go up in 2010. When you look at the total package it gets a little deceiving."
[Hmmm..."deceiving"...interesting choice of words. Actually, the raise for 2009-10 is 4.2%. And 2.8% for 2010-11. Let's not forget that state workers are getting -2% for 2009-10 and 0%--or LESS--for 2010-11. And Dane County workers are taking a pay cut. Raise your hand if you're getting a 7.0% raise over the next 2 years. Yep...about what we thought. ]

A plea for common sense from District resident and former school board member Roger Fetterly ferll on deaf ears (except for Slane). Perhaps luckily, Terry Shimek abstained from the vote since his wife is a teacher for the district.

"I think you should be aware that the state of Wisconsin is in real financial crisis," said district resident Roger Fetterly. Fetterly urged the board to not approve the contract at the June 20 meeting, but table it until the state financial situation was known.
"Employment is hovering at 10 percent. And you're going to give 3.8 increases here," Fetterly said. "That's a real poke in the eye with a sharp stick for the taxpayer to watch you people throw out that money. In spite of dire financial crisis, you're going to give 3.8 increases. This proposed contract is grossly irresponsible. The state has not finalized their budget. What you should do is table it until you find out what your financial situation is."
-the Sun Prairie STAR 6-25-09

So....state and Dane County employees will see %5 cut in pay. Many local folks have been laid off. But Sun Prairie teachers will see a 7% INCREASE to their pay over the next 2 years. Let's tune in to the newswires and see how our school board stacks up in handling the budget problems against those districts whose vision of reality is less distorted:

District faces $450,000 in cuts for next budget
Elimination of energy education contract, 3 1/2 positions possible

In order to cover the projected $450,000 shortfall in the projected 2009-10 budget, Means said, one high school position and two paraprofessional positions would be eliminated, along with an energy education program contract and the half-time position that oversees the contract. Flow-through grants for special education would be used to offset some special education costs.

In addition, the district would offer 20 Open Enrollment seats at the high school.
Means said as long as the Open Enrollment students are taking open seats in classrooms, there would be no additional cost to the district and their enrollment would bring revenue, $6,800 per pupil, into the district. The cost spent per pupil in Mequon-Thiensville is more than $11,000, he said.

Among the budget-balancing ideas thrown out at the Janesville School Board's study session Tuesday:
-- Restructure the administration of athletics.
-- Eliminate the elementary school track meet, saving $13,900.
-- Find space in school buildings the district owns to house one of the district's charter schools.
-- Have central-office administrators who are licensed to teach fill in for absent teachers. Each day of substitute teaching by the 21 administrators would save about $2,100.
-- Use the "fund balance"...
-- Cutting the position of coordinator of the 4-year-old kindergarten program.

In an effort to avoid more drastic cuts that could affect class sizes and student learning, the Wisconsin Rapids School Board will see if its employee groups will give up wages to balance next year's budget.
District leaders are trying to make about $500,000 in additional cuts for 2009-10, because the current state budget proposal includes a 2.5 percent reduction in state aid to schools. The School Board already approved about $1.8 million in cuts on May 11
On Tuesday, the board empowered Superintendent Bob Crist to contact each of the district's unions to see if members would agree to eliminate pay for one holiday next school year.

"Our best estimate right now is that we will need to slash another $300,000 to $350,000 before the start of the next school year,"

"This will be in addition to the several hundred thousand dollars in reductions we made to the district budget earlier this spring."
...the district is waiting to receive the legislative language that will be written to define what the Joint Finance Committee's decision will mean to the district and what budget cuts the district will have to make.
Over the next several weeks the district will continue contract negotiations and determine where the additional cuts will need to be made.

OSHKOSH 6-11-09
The Oshkosh Area School District could close an elementary school and further reduce staffing levels to offset millions of dollars in lost state aid next school year.

...voted to eliminate Rhinelander High School’s forensics program and the freshman B and sophomore basketball teams, but it left a motion to eliminate the RHS swimming program and mothball the pool without a vote.

...likely have to make between $300,000 and $500,000 of additional cuts for next year
In order to meet those figures, the board would likely have to approve additional big ticket item cuts that could involve cutting athletic programs, reducing custodian coverage, reducing paraprofessional staff and/or closing the pool.

...the district has also considered re-configuring its schools in a way that would allow it to maintain fewer buildings