Douglas County DARE could be cut

Black shirts with the iconic red acronym DARE emblazoned across the front may not be a common sight on this year's fifth-graders in Douglas County schools.

Black shirts with the iconic red acronym DARE emblazoned across the front may not be a common sight on this year's fifth-graders in Douglas County schools.

Budget cuts are threatening the popular program.

Sheriff Tom Dalbec cut Drug Abuse Resistance Education from his 2007-08 budget proposal because of a money crunch.

The program was cut to meet the 2 percent levy increase goal set by the county. The goal was designed to meet a possible levy freeze imposed on municipalities and counties throughout Wisconsin for the past two years. The freeze is expected to be included in the next state budget, Dalbec said.

The Sheriff's Department depends on the levy, and with wage and health care cost increases, there isn't much room in the department's budget for nonmandated services, he said.


"Unfortunately the DARE program is one of those areas that is on the chopping block," he said.

This year's budget has led to some tough decisions; it came down to cutting services or personnel.

Dalbec's initial budget proposal included elimination of a part-time bailiff and support positions. Both positions were saved during the budget process by redirecting funds from another county department.

The County Board has yet to approve the budget. It meets Nov. 6 to consider the budget.

DARE costs the department about $10,000 per year when personnel and supply costs are taken into consideration, Dalbec said.

If the county passes the Sheriff's Department's budget, the cut would affect DARE programs in Poplar, Solon Springs, Iron River and Superior.

The county provides DARE training for all kids in the Maple and Solon Springs school districts. The county's DARE program also covers students at Four CornersElementary School in the Superior school district. The Superior Police Department provides DARE to the remaining elementary schools in the district.

Superior Superintendent Jay Mitchell is working with Dalbec and the Superior Police Department to find a way to continue DARE at Four Corners this year, he said.


The district lost its grant to provide DARE in the city's schools last year but has continued providing the program through a private donation.

Before 2006-07, Superior's DARE program was funded as part of the district's Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse prevention program grant, Mitchell said.

The district lost the grant for the 2006-07 year. Instead of grant funding, the city of Superior, the school district and Twin Ports DARE scraped together funds to provide the program. Their efforts were supported by an anonymous donation, Mitchell said.

The district and police are working together to fund DARE for one more year with leftover donations, and city and district funds.

Mitchell said he'd work to make those funds stretch to cover Four Corners students if the county cuts DARE. The district is applying for an AODA grant for 2008-09 school year, Mitchell said.

Dalbec plans to meet with Mitchell, the Superior Police Department and Four Corners principal Patti Lindelof in November to discuss the DARE program at Four Corners.

"I think the DARE program is wonderful, and I think the county officers do a great job," Lindelof said. "We'll do our best to continue to support the program any way we can."

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