In Neenah, they are getting an early start on cutting programs, services and personnel (read the students’ educational opportunities). According to the Appleton Post Crescent the Board has enacted over 50 program cuts and fee increases to address an anticipated $2.8 million gap between allowed revenues and projected costs in the 2010-11 school year. These cuts total $2.7 million, so there are more to come. Probably much more,because if the legislators don’t address revenue shortfalls (think Penny for Kids), I don’t see anyway that there won’t be a state “budget reconciliation” in April or May, with either lower revenue limits, reduced state aid or (most likely) both.
Let’s look at what got lopped off this round (full administrative analysis here):
$628,000 by deferring textbook purchases $240,000 by cutting four teachers at Shattuck Middle School as part of a streamlined house structure $200,000 by cutting five educational assistants for special education $168,000 by cutting three educational assistants and one administrative assistant $162,400 by limiting eighth-graders to one fine arts class and one practical arts class $150,000 by cutting two counselors $100,000 by reducing staff and support for co-curricular activities $80,000 by reducing overtime for hourly employees $70,000 by cutting a bookkeeper at the central office $60,000 by cutting a teacher from the gifted and talented program $60,000 by cutting an academic support teacher $42,000 by eliminating the third-grade strings program from the school day
Here are some other figures of interest.
If Wisconsin wins a Race to the Top grant and if that grant is funded at the requested level, Neenah will receive $412,938 in funding that can only be spent on programs approved by the Federal Department of Education.
In Madison, a 15% cut in state aid is anticipated for 2010-11 (absent a “budget reconciliation”) and cuts in educational opportunities will likely be $3 million to $4 million range. Madison has adopted a budget time line, but has not brought the axes out yet.
There are only one group of people who can reverse the trends playing out in Neenah, in Madison and around the state: our elected officials in the State Legislature. There is only one proposal that has any kind of chance at all of making this happen: the Penny for Kids dedicated sales tax for education. Go to the site and sign the petition. Write your legislators. Write your local paper. Keep in touch with the Penny for Kids campaign on Facebook and Twitter (I’ll confess that I don’t “tweet”).
Neenah’s early; many, many more cuts in many, many more districts will follow if nothing is done.
Thomas J. Mertz