Sunday, July 17, 2011

Walker's Fixed School Budgets deceptive, will be short lived.

Keep an eye on Gov. Walker's next move. He'll try to shore up his image by highlighting his onetime fix to school budgets. He's already bragging how few layoffs have taken place. Of course you'll always get fewer layoffs after a dramatic number of experienced teachers retire. But after this upcoming school year, then what? Walker doesn't want you know, and will do everything he can to paint the rosiest picture ever, even while school boards and teacher grow more adversarial. 

Here's an eye opener that spells it out.
jsonline: Most … Wisconsin districts have avoided layoffs and massive cuts to programs. Critics say that a good financial picture now for schools will be short-lived, and that most districts will nose-dive next year because the recently acquired savings are a one-time fix.

Several school superintendents say that the cuts to education spending could not be completely recouped through greater employee benefit contributions, and that they made the numbers work this year by dipping into reserve funds or leftover stimulus money … But what about 2013?

Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Middleton), the ranking member of the Assembly Education Committee, said Friday that the big worry is what's to come next year, as costs continue to rise.

Kaukauna achieved those savings by new contributions from employees … modifying other aspects of the teachers' workload … teach six hours a day instead of five … from two preparation periods down to one, and eliminated four paid days: one teacher work day and three paid holidays.

The Elmbrook School District's Superintendent Matt Gibson said that he was supportive of the budget-repair legislation on collective bargaining, but that it did not fill the gap in Elmbrook's budget created by Walker's budget cuts to education. They plugged some of the hole by dipping into their capital maintenance fund, he said.

Ron Heilmann, Eau Claire superintendent; "That left a $2 million hole. Coincidentally, we have stimulus funds left over that total about $2 million. But I have a lot of very disgruntled employees." In Racine, chief finance officer Dave Hazen said that the district is likely to run into a deficit again next year. He said if districts are going to be expected to find more places to cut, after already reducing salary and benefits this year, it could become hard to attract good teachers. 

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