Board Members present:
Anderson, Nelson, Taylor, Pitts, Peach, Caraway, Roske, Pronold, Limmex (arrived
7:35 p.m.), Pam Thomas (student representative), Megan Sipes (student
Board Members absent: N/A
Administrators present: Benson, Hoffman, Richardson, Kaukl, Briehl
Others: Ron Troxel, Jeff Johnson, Rose Ellen Schneider, Bridget Roberts, Karen Steindorf, Karen Coyle, Styphanie Palmer, Tim Coyle, Nikki Henkel, Linda Thering, Sue Quale, Jan von Stein, Dick Woppert, Cheryl Ross, Jamie Licht, Tony Cavagnetto, Katrina Lemens, Sallie Jacobsen, Todd Miller, Carla Carmody, Julie Kuhse, Rachel Kuhse, Emily Roske, Bev Smiegelski, Kathy Peetz, Diane Wipperfurth, Michael Maestri, Pat Mahoney, Lisa Roelke, James Radtke, Susie Hauri, Lori Hoffman, Mike Miller, Karen Weisenbeck, Sue Tatar, Craig Nabbefeld, Kathy Kinney, Amy Synnes, Mike Miller, Paula Wedige (Administrative Assistant), David Giffey (Home News)
Anderson opened the meeting. He noted that the meeting had been properly noticed and notice had been provided to the appropriate media and each School Board Member. Pitts moved to proceed with the legal meeting. Roske seconded. Motion carried.
Referendum Timeline (District Deficit Reduction
Benson noted the intent of the forthcoming presentations by teacher department chairpersons was for the Board to gain greater understanding of classroom activities and the impact of potential budget cuts on each department. The following teachers spoke on behalf on their respective departments: Guidance, Karen Steindorf; Art, Dick Woppert; Music, Tony Cavagnetto; Library, Linda Thering; Health/Phy. Ed, Kathy Kinney; Technology Ed, Craig Nabbefeld; English, Amy Synnes; Social Studies, Brent Johnson; Science, Mike Miller; Foreign Language, Karen Weisenbeck; and Alternative Ed, Kathy Peetz. (Summary documents of these presentations are available in the district office.)
James Radtke, High School Dean of Students and Phy. Ed. Teacher, made comments about the quality of the programs at River Valley and encouraged all in attendance to spread the word of importance of these programs.
Benson thanked all speakers and encouraged teachers and staff to proceed forward and continue on with the great things that are happening in our district. He noted that the whole deficit reduction plan process is an effort to preserve the good things.
Benson outlined for the Board some ideas on how to proceed forward with analyzing the data received and outlining a plan of action. He suggested that the Board look at items listed on Impact Statements Version 3.0 and ask the following questions when determining what programs/services to be cut: What is closest to kids? What is farthest from kids? What has the most educational benefit? What has the least educational benefit? Benson then suggested that Board members rank the items using a 40 point total, giving 3 to items to be cut first, 2 to items to be cut next, and 1 to items to be cut last. The consolidated ranking would not be the final decision but rather a talking tool to help guide the discussion related to potential budget cuts. He then suggested that the Board meet one more time for discussion before the November 6 Board meeting where action may take place.
The Board reviewed six options (three compiled by administration and three which resulted from a recent Referendum Fact Committee meeting) for budget cuts that specified what programs would be cut and in what year (2004-05 or 2005-06). The Board also reviewed a document prepared by Business Manager Jeff Mahoney outlining the use and purpose of fund balance. In the report, Mahoney advised against further use of fund balance dollars, other than that which has already been identified for the next three years (2003-06), stating that the district counts on interest earnings for revenue and that overuse of fund balance would lead to bankruptcy for the district.
The question was asked whether we need a referendum vote to cover two years or one year. Benson responded that the district could hold a vote to cover only one year and wait to see what the state funding is after that year. However, with the current dismal budget situation of the state, he anticipates the need for a referendum two years in a row. If we hold a referendum to cover two years (and the referendum passes) and then the state does change the funding mechanism for year two, then taxes just wouldnt be set as high for year two. Furthermore, if there are no changes in state funding, projections for the 2006-07 school year show a $1.3 million deficit for the district.
Todd Miller voiced his frustration with what he perceives as a continuing threat to teacher jobs and with the delay in action by the Board. Anderson responded that the potential outcome of cuts is not a threat but a reality if the referendum doesnt pass. He noted that this has been an educational process for the Board and for the public to get a clear picture and that no one is comfortable with having to cut programs.
Ron Troxel expressed his view that the community needs to be aware of the threat not only to the schools but also to the community if the referendum does not pass. Taxpayers see a no vote as dollars kept in their pockets and not as services to be cut. Benson added that the next phase of the Referendum Fact Committee is to get out and speak with community groups and reach out to more people so they can make an informed decision in February 2004.
The Board agreed to complete the ranking activity suggested earlier by Benson and to meet again before the November 6 special meeting. Pronold moved to set a special meeting on Monday, October 27, 2003, to commence immediately following the annual meeting. Caraway seconded. Motion carried.
Pitts moved to adjourn at 9:46 p.m. Peach seconded. Motion carried.
Submitted by Paula Wedige For Deborah Nelson, School District Clerk