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Williams Bay school board approves fee increases

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Kevin Hoffman
May 10, 2011
— The Williams Bay School Board on Monday approved higher student fees and summer school changes in an effort to inch closer to closing the district’s $600,000 budget deficit.

Parents of students at every grade level will pay more toward books and supplies in the 2011-12 school year, the board unanimously agreed. That’s expected to bring about $11,000 in additional revenue to the district.


The board previously discussed increasing fees only on students in grades seven through 12. Some members thought dividing the rate hikes among all grade levels would alleviate some of the burden from parents of high school students.


The new fees are:


-- $15 for students in 4-year-old kindergarten—an increase of $2.50.


-- $35 for students in 5-year-old kindergarten through sixth grade—an increase of $10.


-- $60 for students in seventh through 12th grade—an increase of $35.


The increases come with a $150 cap on families to prevent those with multiple students in the school district from paying excessive costs.


“We’ve already increased lunch fees, and now we’re increasing those book fees by quite a significant amount,” board member Cathy Butler said. “So some families are just going to be really burdened by that initial cost.”


Williams Bay officials have grappled with the district’s budget woes since a failed referendum last fall prevented them from securing an additional $500,000 in revenue through taxation for two years. The district then wanted a recurring increase of $890,000 each year after.


Board members and some parents have shown interest in returning the question to ballots, but elections laws won’t allow that to happen until February at the earliest, the board indicated.


The idea of implementing fees on activities or parking also came up. Administrator Fred Vorlop said the district didn’t want to discourage students from playing sports, and regulating parking would require someone to supervise the lot.


The board on Monday also approved having junior high summer school students take online courses instead of live classes, but that only would take place if six or less students attend this summer. The district would use services offered by Wisconsin Virtual School, saving about $2,000.


Lynne Landgraf was the only board member to oppose the decision, arguing students would be better served by having in-class instructors.


Since fall, the district has laid off four teachers, cut hours from at least three others and will discontinue one section each from kindergarten and second grade. Those changes are expected to save about $320,000 annually, Vorlop said.


Board member Jim Pfeil said last month expenditures of about $36,000 also were eliminated. That included assigning bus costs for field trips and uniforms for some sports programs to parents.


Vorlop said Monday the district will eliminate one of its maintenance positions, opting not to fill a position vacated by a retiring worker. It wasn’t immediately clear how much that will save the school system.



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