Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Big Foot board slashes budget

by Jade Bolack

April 18, 2013

WALWORTH — "Is there a magic number we're looking for here tonight?" Big Foot School Board member Sue Pruessing asked. "What's our goal? Do we know what we have to cut?"

District Administrator Dorothy Kaufmann said the school board has to cut about $280,000 from next year's budget.

On April 2, district voters defeated a referendum that would allow the school to fund operations for the coming years.

Without the additional revenue, Kaufmann said the district would have to use the fund balance to continue to operate.

The official budget won't be approved until after the 2013-14 school year starts.

Tough cuts

The board voted to not fill several open positions after resignations and retirements at the end of the school year.

Two teacher aides positions will not be filled to save the district about $43,180, board vice president Ed Hayden said.

One of those aides is a Title I reading instructor.

A new interventionist will come from the existing staff.

"We're restructuring that whole department," Principal Mike Hinske said. "Students will go elsewhere to get that help."

Kaufmann said the district intended to hire a new teacher for that position, but without the referendum funds the school can't afford it.

One teacher in the family and consumer education department will not be replaced.

"That will save the district about $79,121," Hayden said. Some class sections in the department will be cut, Hinske said.

To fill the science teaching position open by Barb Makovec's retiring at the end of the year, a teacher with less experience will be hired to save the district $33,661.

Earlier in the year, the district was considering hiring an additional teacher along with Makovec's replacement.

Because of lack of funds, instead of hiring an additional full-time science teacher, Rick Henningfeld, an existing agriscience teacher, will split time between departments.

The split time, instead of hiring a new teacher, will save the district about $48,540.

The athletic department's budget was cut $15,000, and summer school classes were shortened from four weeks to two weeks.

Year-round staff will see three furlough days in 2013-14.

The total budget reduction approved by the board was $211,202, short of the goal by $68,798.

Other possible cuts

The board is still trying to find other ways to cut spending.

The district may remove food service from district operations and contract with a vendor, remove after-hours custodial staff and replace with contractors and review and revise department budgets.

"These options are all still being investigated," Kaufmann said. "They're potentials. We don't know if they'll save money for the district or not."

Recreation news

Chuck Thiesenhusen, director of the recreation district, said new programs and classes will begin soon.

"We have started an adult computer class for Spanish speakers," he said. "We had a number of participants show up for that. That was great."

Thiesenhusen said the department plans to connect with Golden Years of Walworth to hold future classes as well.

"We're excited about forming a partnership with them," he said. "We're looking at doing a couple of shared programs between us and Golden Years."

Fontana Elementary lunch

Kaufmann said she met with leaders at Fontana Elementary School about the lunch program.

Currently, Big Foot food service delivers lunch to the elementary school daily.

"I think much of the issues that they're facing are the same issues that we face," Kaufmann said. "That has to do with the federal guidelines and requirements. Kids can relate to this that there is not enough food and it's not the same kinds of food they've had in the past."

Kaufmann said the new regulations would take time to get used to.

"They are going to try some new items in May that might be more friendly to younger children," she said. "We're going to sample some items and rename some items. We'll present them a little differently."

Kaufmann said she plans to meet again after the changes take effect to gauge the response.