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Board meetings could affect next decade of high school offerings

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Stacy Vogel
May 10, 2008
— The next six months of Edgerton School Board meetings could set the tone for the next 15 years of education at Edgerton High School, Superintendent Norm Fjelstad said.

Principal Jim Halberg on Monday will recommend cutting one English teacher and one special education teacher in the 2009-10 school year. The district already has decided not to fill a 0.75 business education position left open next year by the retirement of two teachers.


Those cuts could be just the beginning.


The school is dealing with dropping enrollment and changes in the state funding structure. The high school projects enrollment to drop from 616 this year to about 500 by 2011-12.


The state pays, on average, two-thirds of a school district’s budget, but it bases its funding on the number of students. If enrollment drops by more than 100 students, the high school could have to cut three teaching positions in 2010-11 and seven positions in 2011-12, reducing the school’s teaching staff by one-third over the next four years.


But Fjelstad cautions it’s way too early to count on those projections.


“We are guessing what our shortfall is going to be over the next four years, and when you get out past a year, that’s real murky,” he said. “But I think we have to plan for worst-case scenarios and have a backup plan.”


The cuts could shape the offerings, requirements and format of the Edgerton High School curriculum for years to come, Fjelstad and Halberg said.


The high school is planning to keep its block schedule, in which students attend four 88-minute classes a day instead of seven or eight shorter ones.


But cuts could affect the number and types of classes offered, the amount of teacher prep time and the requirements for graduation starting in 2009-10, Halberg said.


The school is looking at incorporating “skinny” 44-minute classes into the schedule, Halberg said. The skinny classes could pair up with study halls, something that’s not now offered.


If enrollment and budget projections remain on course, the school board might think about asking district residents for more tax money, Fjelstad said. State levy law prevents government bodies from raising property taxes more than a certain percentage each year without a referendum.


But so far, the school board hasn’t shown interest in a referendum, Fjelstad said. Such discussions are at least two years away, he said.


“Our philosophy in the Edgerton School District has always been until we actually see a need, we don’t take the need to the public, and the reason for that is because sometimes things change,” he said.


“In the meantime, we have to plan.”


IF YOU GO
What: Edgerton School Board meeting.
When: 7 p.m. Monday.
Where: District office, 200 Elm High Drive, Edgerton.

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