Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Bay cuts 4 teaching jobs
Board also reduces 3 positions, cuts field trips, teacher requisitions

by Chris Schultz

April 14, 2011

Williams Bay — If nothing changes and events continue as projected, four Williams Bay teachers will not be back next school year.

Another three will be working reduced hours.

Under provisions of the teachers contract, the Williams Bay School Board on Monday voted unanimously to send preliminary layoff notifications to four teachers: Hanna Coddington, first grade; Nancy McCabe, kindergarten; Dawn Raufman, third grade; and Jessica Reinstad, second grade.

Those notified of reduced hours were Buddy Breen, physical education instructor, football coach and assistant baseball coach; Joshua Reed, high school technical education, and Gordy Roth, junior high school science.

Superintendent Fred Vorlop said the preliminary notices had to be sent out before April 15. Final notices will be sent on June 30. The advantage of laying off teachers according to contract, is teachers retain seniority, Vorlop said.

The district is facing a $617,000 shortfall in its next budget. According to Vorlop, it’s also possible the district might lose another $30,000 in revenues once the impact of a statewide reduction in revenue caps is calculated.

School budget reductions became necessary on Sept. 14, 2010, when the voters rejected an increase in district revenue caps for the next three years.

The increases would have been $498,000 for the 2010-11 school year, $498,000 for 2011-12 and $890,000 for 2012-13 and thereafter. Electors turned that down with 698 voting no, and 411 voting yes.

This year, the district has been drawing down on a $1.1 million surplus to meet expenses. That surplus will be almost cut in half by the end of the year.

One of Vorlop’s recommended cuts has already been implemented by the board. Starting Jan. 24, the company providing cafeteria services to Williams Bay schools cut three positions in the lunch lines. Food choices were reduced and the cost of meals increased by 30 cents, to $2.40 per meal for grades K-6 and $2.50 for grades 7-12.

That is expected to save the district $55,000.

School Board President Steve Miller said the board is trying to cut expenses without cutting classrooms.

In an effort to continue to cut expenses to meet next year’s revenues, the School Board on Monday also cut:

n Field trips for $14,000.

n The junior high school incentive program for $3,500.

n Outdoor education for $6,000.

n The athletic uniform budget by $2,000.

n Teacher requisitions (books, texts, markers, and other instructional materials) by $6,000.

n Summer school enrichment program for $6,000.

The field trips cut for next year were are largely classroom trips. Certain travel can’t be cut, like those for band and choir district contests and for the forensics and math teams.

Essentially, the field trip cuts are for the cost of buses. Miller said if parents were willing to pay $5 per student, the field trips might continue.

The $6,000 cut in outdoor education is the fee, Vorlop said. Again, if parents are willing to pay a per student fee, and if there are donations toward the program, like $1,200 recently offered by the Williams Bay Lions Club, the program might continue, he said.

The district can’t eliminate its remedial summer school for students falling behind academically. But it did make some cuts there as well. The board decided to go with the Wisconsin Virtual School credit recovery program for this year’s summer school, but only with great reluctance. In the past, the district has hired teachers to conduct the remedial courses.

With the Virtual School program, only a mentor is needed to provide students with assistance, said Dan Bice, high school principal. The mentor does not have to be a teacher and is paid less than a teacher, Bice said. Numbers of students in the summer remedial program have varied from 5 to 15. This year, with one semester to go, three students would qualify for the summer program, Bice said.

Board member Cathy Butler asked Bice if he was comfortable with the remedial virtual school program.

“My personal preference is having teachers, but we’re in the budget cutting mode and budget cutting is uncomfortable,” Bice said.

In other business, board member Kim Travis, who chairs the high school principal search committee, said the committee has narrowed the search for a new principal from 49 to seven.

She said the committee is preparing to schedule interviews for the seven finalists. Bice is retiring this year. Bice started with the district as a teacher in 1974 and was hired as high school principal in 1990.

Board President Peter Miller was also recognized with a plaque for his 11 years of service on the school board. Miller did not run for re-election this year.

“My four kids have been better off going to school here,” Miller said.