Janesville55.4°

Williams Bay School Board approves layoffs

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Kevin Hoffman
April 14, 2011
— The Williams Bay School District expects to save about $400,000 through teacher cuts and layoffs approved Monday, but administrators say more reductions are on the horizon to address the district's ballooning deficit.

District Administrator Fred Vorlop said the board approved four layoffs and cut the hours of three teachers to save money. The district's deficit has grown to about $600,000 and a failed referendum last fall that would have drawn additional tax revenue forced the district to make difficult decisions, he said.


Among the cuts is a health and remedial math position at the elementary school and plans to drop one section each from kindergarten and second grade, Vorlop said. The school currently has three sections in both those grades.


Hours will be cut from teachers in three subject areas—physical education, industrial arts and science.


"What we've tried to do is minimize the effect on the classroom," Vorlop said. "While that can't be completely accomplished, that's the goal of the nature of these cuts."


The reductions in staff and classes are projected to save about $320,000 annually. Vorlop expects to shed another $64,000 later this summer, though he said the district hasn't yet decided how that will be accomplished.


The changes will take effect in the 2011-12 school year.


School board member Jim Pfeil said expenditures of about $36,000 also were eliminated during Monday's meeting. Those included shifting bus costs for field trips and uniforms for some sports programs to parents. He said the board also cut some classroom supplies for teachers.


"It's not fun and it's not easy," Pfeil said. "But with the deficit that we're in, it had to be done."


The district also was able to save money by not filling positions vacated by retiring staff members, Pfeil said.


The cuts and fee hikes are partly related to November's referendum in which the district sought to exceed the revenue cap by nearly $500,000 this year and next. The district then wanted a recurring increase to $890,000 each year after.


The board in January outlined preliminary recommendations for how it can address its budget issues. Options included staff cuts, dissolving programs such as outdoor education and an increase in student fees.


During a public hearing, some parents indicated they would prefer to see the referendum return to the ballot. Board President Peter Miller said that's likely the best way to address the budget. Because of elections procedures, the earliest that can happen is February 2012.


Board members also said that even with the proposed reductions, the deficit could grow to as much as $788,000 by the 2015-16 school year.



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