Janesville68.7°

Janesville School District budget remains sticky issue

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
June 25, 2011
— After cutting about $13 million and more than 100 positions, Janesville School Board members have not balanced the budget for the coming school year. Not quite.

Board President Bill Sodemann estimates the deficit is down to $300,000 to $400,000.


The administration is expected to update the board when the board meets Tuesday.


After cutting so much, options for finding more savings are few, Sodemann said, but he’s not ready to dip into the district’s checking account—the fund balance—to make up the difference.


The board at its last meeting agreed to apply about $600,000 from a TIF district closing to the 2011-12 budget. That money went directly into the fund balance, so the board agreed to make another withdrawal from the fund balance. This brings the board’s total withdrawal to $4 million.


Sodemann said he’s not willing to dip any farther into the fund balance, although board member Kevin Murray has proposed several times to do so.


The $4 million is one-time money, so using it creates a deficit of $4 million in the 2012-13 budget, Sodemann said. In addition, the district estimates that the costs of wages and benefits will rise by $4 million to $5 million in 2012-13, so the board already will be facing the prospect of having to come up with $8 million or more next year.


Sodemann said there’s a possibility of some relief, if the Legislature agrees to ease restrictions on local property taxes. He estimates that still would leave the district with a $6 million hole for 2012-13.


“What’s that? Another 100 people,” Sodemann said.


He was referring to the number of job cuts if all $6 million came in the form of layoffs, resignations and retirements. The district estimates that the cost of salary and benefits for one teacher is about $60,000, so $6 million divided by $60,000 is 100.


Closing a school or two could save perhaps $1 million, Sodemann said, but that’s not enough.


Sodemann suggested the teachers union could help in a big way if it agreed to reopen its contract to negotiate a larger contribution to the cost of teachers’ benefits.


ON THE AGENDA

The Janesville School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St., Janesville. The meeting is carried on Janesville cable channels 96 and 993 and is streamed live online; see the link at janesville.k12.wi.us.


The agenda includes:


-- A report on replacing Chinese teacher Yiyi Gallant, who resigned. If a teacher can’t be found, the district’s Chinese program “will need to be re-evaluated as to how to serve students,” according to a memo from Steve Sperry, director of human services.


-- Year-end reports from district charter schools.


-- Presentation and possible approval of an update to the district’s strategic plan, which sets goals the board hopes to achieve.



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