Janesville25.6°

Brodhead School Board begins search for cuts

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GINA R. HEINE
February 23, 2010
— Brodhead School Board members directed district administrators to recommend $260,000 in teacher cuts if a new referendum planned for April is unsuccessful.

In its regular board meeting Monday, members went back to the drawing board to find about $400,000 in cuts if the three-year, $1.76 million referendum fails April 6.


Board members generally agreed in a special meeting Friday night to take extracurricular activities off the cut list. Members cited substantial losses in state aid the district would face from students open enrolling out if those activities were dropped.


But teachers union representative Kathy Matteson said the union was concerned that removing extracurriculars from the cut list might keep people from turning out to vote.


“It just makes no good financial sense to cut extracurriculars,” President Peggy Olsen said. “That would just be one of the poorest decisions we’d make with all the money going out the door.”


Final open enrollment numbers Friday showed 146 students applied to leave the Brodhead School District. Of those, 94 were from the high school, 28 from the middle school and 24 from the elementary school.


The district would lose $6,800 in state aid for each student that transfers to another district. However, students who applied to leave the district have until June to make a final decision.


The board is looking for $400,000 in cuts for the 2010-11 school year if the referendum fails. Along with the potential $260,000 in teacher cuts, the board on Monday also added eliminating a bus route, one guidance position and the high school adventures class—totaling $141,200 more.


The board needs to begin negotiating with the teachers union, which has agreed to reopen its contract for a pay freeze next year. The board also discussed public relations efforts for the new referendum and scheduled a public information meeting for 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 15, at the high school, 2105 W. 5th St.


Board members agreed to get make more information available to the public and directed administrators to prepare updated numbers.


The board next meets Wednesday, March 10. Layoff notices must be issued to teachers by April 1.


Opposition forming

A Beloit man concerned that Brodhead School Board members aren’t asking the right financial questions said he is filing paperwork to recall three board members.


Dwight Brass, who calls his effort Citizens Allied for Responsible Education, wants to recall Chris Searls, Susan Welch and Jim Wahl. He said state law only allows him to attempt to recall three of the seven board members.


Brass believes that if those members were reelected after recall, it would prompt them to ask more questions about the costs of teaching each class.


“The school board here, I think, they don’t have enough information to make an informed decision,” Brass said. He said he took note after reading news articles last week about the district’s referendums.


Brass held a meeting at the Brodhead Memorial Public Library on Monday afternoon to “recruit” people for his cause. He advertised attendance and participation in the meeting was only for residents who voted no on last week’s referendum.


Brass said he intends to file paperwork with the district this morning to begin his recall petition and begin gathering signatures.


More than 20 people attended Brass’ meeting, though many said they were “yes” voters. Several attendees walked out in the middle of his presentation, one saying he was “just rambling.”


Brass said he brings a background of filing financial reports for UW-Stevens Point and as a product specialist at Honeywell in Freeport, Ill. He said financial reporting is a management tool that is needed to make an informed decision.


Brass said Brodhead voters and board members need to ask how much it costs to teach each class and use that information to make informed decisions.


He said he will hold a follow-up meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Brodhead Public Library.



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