Eau Claire makes some painful decisions.
“Little Red School parents and staff exchanged hugs and condolences Monday night after the Eau Claire school board voted 5-to-2 to close the school. But the cost-cutting measure, one of more than $5 million cuts approved at the meeting, didn’t surprise school supporters.
‘Honestly, it doesn’t come as a shock,’ said Barb Habben, a second grade teacher.
Parents and students had prepared for the worst, said Little Red parent teacher association president Kathy Buyze. After the vote several audience members left the auditorium.
‘There’s a lot of frustration, and a lot of unanswered questions,’ she said.
Board members said they regretted closing the school, but needed to make the cut to help balance the budget. .
‘There’s not a person up here that wants to make these cuts,’ board President Carol Olson told a crowd of more than 1,000 inside the Memorial High School auditorium. ‘We wanted a successful referendum, so we wouldn’t have to do some of these things … But we have to move forward and allow our district to make some decisions.’ In all, the group eliminated a little more than $5 million from its 2007-08 budget.
During an 80 minute public comment session before the meeting, more than 40 students, parents, teachers and community members expressed their opinions about the district’s budget. The speakers addressed a wide array of topics, ranging from the importance of language courses to the value of administration positions.
When the board later moved ahead with budget reductions, audience members routinely booed the comments of members who advocated cuts. After a failed motion to disregard the district-developed list of budget reduction, several attendees walked out of the meeting. More audience members left after the board voted 5-to-2 to close Little Red School, which will save $586,000 annually.”