Janesville34.6°

Budget cuts discussed; decision coming in two weeks

Print Print
FRANK J. SCHULTZ
August 13, 2008
— Tim Cullen likes Superintendent Tom Evert’s list of $1 million in budget cuts. Peggy Sheridan doesn’t.

The two Janesville School Board members sparred over the list at their meeting Tuesday.


Cullen noted that no teacher, teacher’s aide or anyone else who deals with students is on the list. That means no direct impact on students, Cullen said.


Sheridan said the cuts would affect students.


And, Sheridan said, Janesville needs to attract new employers to replace lost jobs, and this is not a good time to give the community a black eye.


“Now is the time to show them we have a great district,” Sheridan said.


It wasn’t clear what specific supplies, equipment, services from outside contractors, travel or training would be cut. The administration’s list did not include those specifics.


With only five of the nine school board members present at the school board meeting Tuesday, it was impossible to tell whether budget cuts have any chance of passage.


Absent were Gregory Ardrey, Debra Kolste, Kevin Murray and Bill Sodemann.


The board is scheduled to make its final budget decisions at its next meeting Tuesday, Aug. 26.


One of the largest items on the list, $281,000 for maintenance projects, also had no specifics. Administrators said they would find specific items to cut if the board approved cuts in those areas.


Evert called the maintenance cuts “far and away my biggest concern.”


Business Director Doug Bunton said the repair or replacement of items such as parking lots might be delayed, and those items would be more worn out before they were finally fixed.


Districts that have gotten into trouble by delaying maintenance have had to ask voters to approve referendums to get those projects done, Bunton said.


Lori Stottler said the cuts seem to be a way to put off spending that will have to be made up with taxes in future years.


Stottler contrasted the tens of millions of dollars spent in recent referendum projects to the projected $15 in savings to the average taxpayer if the board cut $500,000.


“To me, it’s like buying a home in need of repair and not putting in new windows, to have the cold winter wind blowing through the windows,” Stottler said.


For Cullen, the bottom line is cutting the tax levy from a nearly 9 percent increase to about 6 percent, if the board cuts $1 million. The administration prepared the list of cuts at the board’s request because of board members’ concerns that the tax hike was too big in light of the recent spate of bad economic news.


Stottler said she’d prefer her plan to increase athletics fees for certain high-cost sports, which she figured would bring in $85,000. Board President DuWayne Severson encouraged Stottler to bring her plan up on Aug. 26.


OTHER BUSINESS

The Janesville School Board on Tuesday night also:


-- Unanimously approved the choice of Richard Lehman as interim assistant Parker High School assistant principal and athletics director and Synthia Taylor as Marshall Middle School principal.


-- Heard that the number of students needing help learning English for the coming year has increase to 781. The number was 713 at the end of the last school year. Most of the “English language learners” are Spanish speakers.


-- Heard that more than 500 children have been registered for the district’s new 4-year-old kindergarten program. Officials had expected about 500 would sign up.


-- Increased the daily pay rates for substitute teachers.


Basic rate—$93, up 3.33 percent from $90.


Rate after 40 days—$98, up 3.16 percent from $95.


Long-term rate—$169.46, up 3.32 percent from $164.02.


Also, the hourly rate for teachers of homebound students was raised to $22.20 an hour, up 3.26 percent from $21.50.



Print Print