Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

How should school board fill latest hole?

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Greg Peck
Friday, August 5, 2011

State aid coming to the Janesville School District will fall $5 million compared to last year. That’s $2 million more than earlier projections. Administrators and board members assumed a $3 million cut as they tried to fill the district’s budget hole.

A complicated state budget formula leaves the statewide average increase in property taxes for schools at just 0.6 percent but lets Janesville raise school taxes a startling 7.6 percent to make up for the aid loss.

The board no doubt will take up the issue when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

It could find more cuts despite the steep slashes in personnel, programs and courses it already has made.

It could tap more from its reserves, known as Fund 10.

It could raise property taxes 7.6 percent, or perhaps hold the increase to 6.4 percent, or $55 on the average home--enough to make up for the $2 million shortfall.

Or it could hope that the teachers union, the Janesville Education Association, agrees to reopen its contract so educators begin paying 5.8 percent of their salaries toward their pensions. That would save the district about $3 million and avert any need for a tax increase.

What are the odds of the latter happening? Should the board hold out hope that the resistant union leadership does allow a membership vote on that idea?

Should the district tap more from Fund 10 than the $4 million it already has agreed to drain from it?

Should the board and administrators continue to look for savings? Or should the board go ahead and raise property taxes to make up for the entire shortfall?

We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Sunday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 9:59 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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