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I-S schools prepare to make cuts

Cuts will be necessary in order to balance the budget, the Iola-Scandinavia School Board announced at its February meeting.

The school district is facing an estimated $150,000 budget shortfall in 2011-12. District Administrator Joe Price made the projection based on declining enrollment and no per pupil increase in state revenue.

In order to compensate for the projected shortfall, Price proposed changing fourth (49 students) and sixth grade (53 students) from three sections to two sections next year. Fifth grade is already divided into two sections, with 27 in the largest section. Four-year-old (4K) and 5-year-old kindergarten, and grades 1-3 will remain as three sections, with no more than 17 students per section.

“We think the smaller class sizes make a bigger difference in the lower grades,” Price explained at the Feb. 14 meeting.

Reducing the number of sections in fourth and sixth grade will save the district about $123,000.

Price also recommended changing the school psychologist CESA contract to 40 percent (currently 60 percent) and dropping the part-time Spanish teacher for a savings of $55,000.

The CESA 5 contract change was approved by the school board. Staff reductions will be determined at the March 14 meeting. It was noted that layoff notices must be sent by April 15.

Declining enrollment is having a huge impact on the budget, according to Price. He noted that numbers have fallen by 100 students since 2000-01. The three-year average was 759 in fall of 2010, but is expected to fall to 744 by fall of 2011, he estimated. This alone amounts to a $115,000 decrease in state revenue. Expenditures are expected to increase by about $180,000 for the 2011-12 school year.

The deficit is somewhat less because the district has $151,400 remaining from the Education Jobs Fund. This money can be used to help pay teacher salaries, but must be spent in 2011-12.

Price warned that the district could face a $400,000 deficit in 2012-13.

In the public comment segment of the meeting, Dennis Knealy voiced his opinion concerning the pending staff layoffs. He called for the board to look at other ways to balance the budget and accused them of not providing full disclosure of administrative wages.

“We can’t afford to keep taxing just because we can’t make the tough decisions,” Knealy said.

In other business, the board:

• Accepted the resignation of 4K teacher Nicole Sparks.

• Accepted the resignation of Brian Korb as baseball coach.

• Agreed to a contract for Scott Erickson to coach baseball.

• Approved the Waupaca County Charter School Consortium contract for 2011-12.

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