Janesville73°

Janesville School Board to consider cuts

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
July 24, 2010
— Teachers, principals and all other Janesville School District staff would take non-paid time off.

Some students would use out-of-date textbooks or computers.


Report cards would no longer be mailed.


Freshman football and basketball would be reduced to one team per high school rather than two.


The Janesville School District administration is proposing these and many other cuts to balance its 2010-11 budget.


Some of the cuts would affect students, Superintendent Karen Schulte acknowledged in an interview Friday.


The school board will consider the cuts when it meets Tuesday night.


The cuts come in three scenarios: a property tax levy increase of 2 percent, 4 percent and 6 percent.


At 6 percent, the budget still needs $3.69 million in order to balance. At 3 percent, $4.23 million is needed. At 2 percent, the shortfall is $4.77 million.


The budget calculations assume that all employees would get a 0.5 percent pay increase. Actual pay increases are unknown because the district is still negotiating contracts with teachers and two other employee unions, and no decision has been made about pay for administrators and other nonrepresented groups. Furloughs of either two, three or four days, depending on the size of the tax increase, are pay cuts, Schulte acknowledged.


“Furloughs need to be used only in times of great economic stress, which I believe we’re under,” Schulte said.


The teacher furloughs would not be student-contact days. Rather, they’d be taken from the seven “teacher work days” built into the school calendar. Teachers use those days to complete grades and prepare for upcoming school days.


Jim Reif, co-lead negotiator for the teachers union, said the teachers might be willing to consider one or two furlough days.


“Almost every teacher who takes a furlough day is still going to do the work at home,” Reif said. “That’s why one or two days might be possible, but more days would be problematic.”


If the furlough days can’t be negotiated with the unions, then cuts would have to come from another part of the budget, Schulte said.


Another uncertainty is a potential 22 percent increase in health insurance costs, which would mean another round of cuts of more than $1 million, said CFO Keith Pennington.


Pennington said the 22 percent figure from the district’s health-insurance consultant is preliminary, and the district is waiting to get more information.


As many as four positions could be cut. One is a psychologist position that is open because of a resignation. Schulte would not say what the other positions are because it’s not yet clear which cuts the school board will approve.


One of the positions is part time, Schulte said.


Teachers cannot be laid off in the upcoming school year because a contractual deadline has passed.


Schulte said she worries about losing a psychologist whose duties are related directly to improving student achievement, one of the board’s top goals. She hopes money could be found to fund the position.


Psychologists do evaluations that can keep students out of special education, which saves money, Schulte noted.


A 6 percent tax levy increase is estimated to mean a tax increase of $62 on a house valued at $142,222 or $49 on a $112,000 house.


A 4 percent levy increase would mean tax increases of $41 or $32 on those two houses. A 2 percent tax hike would mean tax increases of $21 or $16 on those houses.


A note about the potential tax levy increases: They are increases for the operating budget only.


When debt service is figured in, the 2 percent increase becomes 1.6 percent, the 4 percent hike becomes 3.1 percent, and a 6 percent increase becomes 4.7 percent.


AT A GLANCE

Proposed cuts in the Janesville School District’s 2010-11 budget include:


-- Postponing computer-technology purchases of $1.3 million if the tax levy increases by 2 percent, $1.37 million if the levy rises by 4 percent, or $1.26 million if the levy increase is 6 percent. The district would not buy Smartboards, classroom computers or laptops, data-storage software to replace the failed Just Five Clicks program and a phone system upgrade. Planned wireless access points would be reduced.


-- Furloughs for all employees of either two, three or four days, depending on the size of the tax increase. Savings would be $1.42 million, $1.06 million or $708,852. It’s unknown whether unions would agree to this. Administrators hired this year would be required to take furloughs under a clause added to their contracts. Administrators hired previously do not have that clause but would be asked to voluntarily take furlough. At-will hires would be required to take furloughs.


-- Postponing maintenance costs, $706,000. This includes scheduled replacement of the Jackson School roof, $415,000. Jackson has no problems with its roof, yet. “It could last another 10 years; I don’t know,” said CFO Keith Pennington. Also, the parking lot behind Parker High School, $150,000, and scheduled replacement of classroom ventilation units districtwide, $120,000.


-- Postponing textbook replacements, $400,000. Officials would investigate possible savings from buying materials in electronic format. Students in high school physical science and middle school social studies would be using the old books.


-- Instructional technology cuts, in addition to those noted above, either $150,000 under the 2 percent tax increase or $50,000 under the higher tax increases.


-- Special education—small cuts, mostly by not filling an open teaching position in the learning-disabilities area, which could result in larger caseloads for some teachers, and shifting of costs to federal grant programs, $145,453.


-- Reducing the supply budget of the district’s administrative center by 30 percent, $107,495.


-- Layoffs of up to three people, one of them part-time, and possibly not filling a psychologist position, $258,516 at the lowest tax increase, $128,716 under the 4 percent tax increase, or $52,039 at the 6 percent tax increase.


-- A reduction of $83,000 in liability and other non-health insurance costs, through a recent bidding process.


-- Sports, $77,665, including the loss of one of the two freshman football teams at each school and one of the two boys and two girls basketball teams at each school, $22,165; a freeze on uniform purchases, $41,600; loss of the all-city fourth- and fifth-grade track meet, $13,900.


-- Not mailing report cards, $8,100.


-- A variety of other cuts of $25,000 or less, affecting the high school equivalency program, the homebound teacher program, reducing copier expenses and adjusting thermostats to levels yet to be determined.



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