Superior school officials wince at coming budget cutsA week after Gov. Scott Walker released his budget proposal for 2011-13, the Superior school district is bracing for substantial cuts to school aid.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
A week after Gov. Scott Walker released his budget proposal for 2011-13, the Superior school district is bracing for substantial cuts to school aid.
Jack Amadio, district business manager, said his latest estimates show Superior stands to lose about $2.7 million next year. A large portion of the loss comes from the governor’s proposed 5.5 percent reduction in district revenue limits, with the remainder coming from the estimated $834 million cut in statewide education funding over the biennium.
“It’s going to be ugly. There’s no doubt it’s going to be ugly,” Amadio said.
The Superior school district plans to get through 2011-12 without drastic changes. Amadio said the administration will have time to look for possible cuts for 2012-13.
“Our purpose was not to make those (decisions) in a crisis environment,” Amadio said.
No decisions have been made on how to absorb the $2.7 million cut in funding for 2011-12, but increased employee contributions to the Wisconsin Retirement System should offset about half that amount. District officials also believe they can save nearly $500,000 by eliminating two administrator positions and three teaching positions through retirement, with an additional $200,000 of savings also estimated from retirements.
To make up the rest, district administrators have considered using interest from an old building fund and holding off on a bus purchase, but still will need to find almost $239,000 to cut from the general operating fund.
The district’s budget constraints came into play at the Superior School Board’s operations committee meeting Monday.
Administrators decided to forgo upgrades to propane tanks at Northern Lights Elementary School and Superior Middle School that would have cost almost $25,000, but moved to replace the pool roof at Superior High School.
The roof continues to leak slowly, said buildings and grounds director Gary Niemi, and water was dripping into the pool area before a patch was applied in the fall. The work was a “Band-Aid” to prevent further damage until a permanent solution could be applied, Niemi said.
“We don’t want to get to the point where you start rusting out the roof decks,” Niemi said. A delay could lead to internal structural damage.
The board advanced a low bid of $291,100 from Palmer West Construction for final approval at next week’s regular School Board meeting. Money for the roof replacement comes primarily from the district’s old building fund.
The board also dealt with fallout from the governor’s budget repair bill during its meeting.
Two administrators and eight teachers joined the growing list of retirees in the latest monthly report, with more expected before the March 28 deadline to announce retirement plans.
Board member Christina Kintop said she’d spoken with a number of the teachers planning to retire and found they’d come to their decision only after the introduction of the budget repair bill, which stipulates teachers must pay into the Wisconsin Retirement Service at a higher rate.
“We’re losing some very qualified teachers because of this bill,” Kintop said.
“It is too bad this has pushed them out the door in some ways,” board member Mary Klun added. “And I don’t blame them.”