Milton schools waiting on unknowns in the budget

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Stacy Vogel
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
— Time is running short on teacher contract renewals, but too many unknowns still exist for the Milton School District to decide its 2009-10 staffing.

Business Manager Dianne Meyer told the board in December the district could face a shortfall of up to $1.1 million next year if certain assumptions hold true.

So far, the assumptions are holding up. Meyer assumed in her estimate that the district would receive no increase in state aid, and that’s exactly what Gov. Jim Doyle proposed in his 2009-11 budget.

The estimate also assumed student enrollment will hold steady, something by no means certain. The district lost 20 students in fall 2008 and another 27 between September and January. Officials won’t know until September how the end of production at the Janesville General Motors plant and the economic recession in general will affect enrollment.

But teachers must be told by mid-April if their contracts won’t be renewed, Meyer said. Only one regular board meeting, scheduled for April 6, remains before that deadline.

Superintendent Bernie Nikolay told the board Monday that administrators are working on a list of prioritized staffing needs for 2009-10. Administrators also are creating a list of budget cuts that could pay for some of the needs, he said.

Further complicating the decisions is the uncertainty surrounding the federal stimulus package. Wisconsin school districts have no idea how much money they’ll get from the package, Meyer said.

“Quite frankly, there are no specifics from the state or federal government,” she said.

Also, Wisconsin districts could be paying more than expected in teacher salaries starting next year if the state eliminates the Qualified Economic Offer. Doyle’s budget would eliminate the QEO, which allows districts to impose wage and benefit increases totaling 3.8 percent if the districts and teachers can’t reach agreement.

Last updated: 9:49 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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