It has been a while since I’ve posted one of these round ups of Wisconsin school budget news. This one is going to be in the quick facts and short excerpts style.
The recent referendum in Menomomie lost, the start up and operating costs for 4K are only partially covered by state aid and allowable local revenues, so even though a majority of the Board believe it would be “beneficial for kids,” there will be no 4 year old kindergarten in Menomonie.
“I voted against this two years ago, but since then I’ve read some positive information about four-year-old kindergarten,” said Bud Karis, board member.
The referendum that was recently defeated, however, was not for new programs, but to maintain existing programs, he said.
“If we can’t maintain existing programs, then we should not start new programs. Where are we going to get the start-up funds when we’re already broke?” Karis said.
Four-year-old kindergarten is educationally sound and is fiscally sound over time, said Jesse Harness, district administrator.
Ashwaubenon lays off 8 teachers
The headline kind of says it all. One interesting note is that like MMSD and other districts around the state, Ashwaubenon is considering following the state law that allows districts to move community education programs to a fund that is not under the revenue caps.
The district also would like to start a community service fund, Lucius said earlier this spring. With that fund, programs that benefit the community — such as Ashwaubenon High School’s indoor pool and other programs — fit under a different tax levy not tied to the state-mandated revenue caps for school districts. That would free up about $300,000 in the school budget, Lucius said, but does require approval at the school district’s annual meeting in July.
Like in Madison, busing for both public and private school students was cut.
School board member Scott Butler said in-city busing is not required by law and falls below other priorities of the district. A majority of the board agreed with him Tuesday.
Tight budgets mean a close look at priorities.
Budget woes plague Kaukauna schools
Read both linked stories to get the sad story of how the district tried and failed to keep all the SAGE class size reductions that the state would co-fund. The Governor’s budget this year contains the first increase in SAGE reimbursement ever, but even if that goes through the state funding will fall short of meeting the true expenses in all or most schools. Like so many other state and federal programs, SAGE is underfunded and the difference has to be made up out of the general budget.
“I appreciate what they (administrators) did to get to where we are,” said Todd Arnoldussen, the board’s vice president and a staunch supporter of retaining the SAGE program. “But I can’t see all that work going out the window. … This is the right way.”
The schools in Hustiford will again run a deficit and dip into their fund balance this year (to the tune of $654,437). the familiar story of allowed revenues not rising as fast as expenses. Although familiar, the reporter (Pat Hahn) did an exceptional job explaining state and local school finances and I urge you to read it. Here is one good quote:
“It looks dismal, and it is,” Van Ravenstein told the board. “Each year since I’ve been here, I’ve trimmed the budget as much as I could. This year there isn’t anything left to trim.”
Thomas J. Mertz