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Referendum Passage Sparks an Optimistic Budget Proposal from School Officials

Shorewood School District's revised figures land in the black for 2011-12

Armed with revenue from its voter-approved referendum, the Shorewood School District on Monday released revised recommendations to address a $1.95 million budget gap.

became a little bit easier after the , as the district can borrow money to refinance debt and shift funds out of their operating fund, saving about $620,000 next year.

Those referendum savings combine with provisions under Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, staff turnover and savings from a change in the district’s health care plan to give the district a $152,000 surplus for 2011-12.

"I want to thank the community for supporting the recent referendum," McCann said. "It does help us balance this year's budget ... it does help us reduce future financial gaps, but it will not eliminate them. The more money that we can hold back this year will allow us to stretch that referendum further."

The district saw its because of a 10 percent cut in state aid and freeze on the tax levy as part of the governor's 2011-13 budget proposal. The district will lose $666 per student. A 10 percent cut in state aid isn’t the most severe reduction the district has seen in the last five years, including a 15 percent reduction in 2007 and a 17 percent decrease in 2008, but there wasn’t a freeze on the tax levy.

"It's my feeling until the state formula is reformed we will continue to face gaps," McCann said.

The district was able to set aside certain options, such as eliminating science aides and taking away health care benefits for all instructional aides. The district now would not provide healthcare options for new hires while current aides retain their benefits.

McCann said there were still several cuts that didn't make the list of suggestions including increasing class sizes, cutting a librarian position, moving music lessons to after school and moving elementary Spanish to outside the regular school day at a previous meeting. The district would still, however, eliminate music directorships, asking those music directors to teach an additional class. The district would pay a stipend for any lessons forced to move outside the regular school day. The measure would save the district nearly $30,000.

The greatest cost savings are found within provisions from the budget repair bill, including a 5.8 percent contribution from employees to their pensions and an estimated 1 percent salary cap. Those moves bring the district about $737,794.

McCann said salary savings from staff retirement are much higher than originally anticipated, around $300,000 as opposed to $174,348. And, bidding out health care could help the district realize savings of about $424,000, more than double the original estimate of $185,000.

Local teacher Candy Bar-Lev confirmed Monday that Shorewood Education Association members are prepared to make further concessions including contributing 12.6 percent to their health care premiums, saving the district $124,998. Shorewood educators are not required to contribute the 12.6 percent as mandated in the budget repair bill, because the district doesn’t use the state health care plan.

The district expects to still save $50,000 from energy efficiencies.

Among the provisions officials kept in the in the 2011-12 budget suggestions are an increase in high school athletic fees from $100 to $125 and club fees from $50 to $60, elimination of a village marketing contribution, a elimination of custodial overtime and cutbacks in secretarial substitutes.

The district would still add $481,300 to its budget to help grow the district's summer school program, hire a director of administrative services, director of instruction and hire a literacy coach. McCann said the district would also like to look at replacing computers in a lab at Shorewood High School and installing wireless Internet across the district.

Bar-Lev questioned the addition of administrative positions with the concessions other employees including teachers have agreed to make and the cut to district music directorships.

The district did not factor federal jobs bill money it received last year in the budget recommendation.

The district says long-term solutions to budget woes continue to be increasing resident enrollment, fundraising and setting up an endowment.

JWF April 15, 2011 at 02:49 PM
Well said Sean, If he were to volounteer and educate himself about the community he would learn that things are not so simple and that Shorewood School District officials are actually very bottom line oriented and that classrooms are not sitting empty. However, it is probably much easier for Joe to sit on the sidelines and rant and feel righteous rather than roll up his shirtsleeves and actually work to make Shorewood a better place to live.
Sean Cummings April 15, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Not sure why Joe Peterlin continues to live in Shorewood given I have never heard him say one nice thing about the community in which he lives or the people who govern it.
JWF April 15, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Sean, I am not sure why either, he seems a little angry.
Sean Cummings April 15, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Great Joe, we have found some common ground. We can all applaud the work of the Chief, DPW, village and library staff. Have a good weekend!
nancy peske April 17, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Annually, my husband or I attend the budget meetings. I'd like to express my appreciation to whoever is in charge of getting the info out on the meetings and the budget, and whoever is running the websites and social media accounts for the school and village. It's easier than ever to keep up on what's happening and contribute to a productive dialogue about making Shorewood even better, meeting its challenges, and getting the word out about how great a place it is. May I add my thanks to Joe for his participation in the 4th of July parade, and to Sean, who one year while marching in the parade graciously stepped out of the street to come up to my parents, both in wheelchairs, to shake their hands. So often people in wheelchairs are ignored and it was a very moving moment for us.

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