Brodhead School Board facing tough decisions
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The Brodhead School Board will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, at the district office, 2501 W. 5th Ave., Brodhead, to discuss and likely vote on budget cuts for the 2009-10 school year.
BRODHEAD The Brodhead School District likely will cut programs and teachers to deal with a projected $280,000 deficit next year, Superintendent Chuck Deery said.
He admitted cuts would be difficult and would affect students, but "it's just going to get tougher," he said.
The district predicts more severe deficits—$630,000 in 2010-2011, then $950,000 in 2011-2012.
The board cut an average of $200,000 in each of the last five years by finding ways to save, but now it's going to get more difficult, Deery said.
"We're starting to look at cuts that affect programs, students," he said.
The school board already has identified about $73,000 in cuts for next year and will discuss additional cuts of $80,000 to $100,000 at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 11, he said.
Deery said the board appears to agree on the following cuts:
-- Eliminating one of the two library directors. The district would have one K-12 director, and the elementary school library would be staffed with an aide when the director is not there.
-- Eliminating an aide position.
-- Imposing travel restrictions.
-- No longer heating the district's greenhouse.
-- Increasing sport fees by $5 per student per sport.
The board Wednesday night also will discuss:
-- Cutting family and consumer education from the middle school, which would eliminate one full-time position. The class still would be available as an elective in high school.
-- Eliminating the pay for school board members. The savings for all seven positions would be $8,600 a year.
-- Eliminating field trips for a savings of about $10,000.
The projected deficits are a result of revenues not keeping up with rising expenses such as energy prices—a problem most districts in the state face—as well as declining enrollment, Deery said.
Aside from the cuts proposed for next year, the board likely will pull money from its fund balance and from a retirement benefits fund to avoid cutting the full $280,000, he said. The board hasn't dipped into its fund balance, now at $1.8 million, during cuts the last few years.
The board also is discussing holding referendum in spring 2010 to exceed the revenue cap for three to five years, though no dollar amount has been set.
"The reason we're doing that (is we) feel it's a terrible time to go to a referendum (now)," Deery said.
The annual debt payment of about $930,000 on the high school construction will come off the tax levy after the 2009-2010 school year, so the district hopes it can convince voters to approve a referendum that would have about the same or less impact on taxes, he said.
Enrollment, however, is one of the "real wild cards" in the budget, he said.
This school year, the district projected a drop of about 50 students, but it turned out to be only about 20. The district is expecting a decline of at least 100 kids over the next four years.
State funding is likely to change, too, but districts won't get details for months. Brodhead is basing its plan on previous state funding, meaning state cuts would increase the local deficit, Deery said.
"We're kind of worried about what's going to happen with the state budget," he said.