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Boscobel School Board members concerned with 2016-2017 budget
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Two items affecting the preliminary budget for 2016-2017 created consternation for board and public alike during Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the Boscobel School Board.

Heading into the meeting, the summer recreation program was projected to create a loss of $18,421 for the school district.  Additionally, the summer school program is projected to cost the district $9,210 due to lost declining enrollment aid.

That loss caused concern among the board members, who discussed ways to decrease the loss, primarily through lowering wages on many positions and through not counting the summer rec program instruction in the formula used by the state to determine declining enrollment aid.

The board gave the administrative team authorization to proceed with hiring coaches and other staff for the program. They also decided against counting summer rec instruction time to reduce the declining enrollment aid loss.

It was in the midst of the conversation that those assembled learned the second issue of concern – open enrollment numbers.

Thirty-four open enrollment requests for Boscobel students to leave the district next year have been received, according to business advisor Carol Dyer, and none to come in.

The district has been working to reduce an expected deficit of over $200,000 with some success, bringing that number down to $148,000 with further reductions still being sought, Dyer noted. But should all of the open enrollment applications be acted on, the expected deficit for 2016-2017 will increase to around $400,000.

Responding to questions from the audience, board president Todd Miller noted that the school district is prohibited from asking students or their family why they are choosing to leave. Some, he suggested are leaving because the district wasn’t a fit for them, some for athletics, but many “because the grass is always greener somewhere else.”

Those open enrollment applications represent new open enrollment requests, as current open enrollment students do not need to reapply to continue attending another school.

“How many students are currently open enrolling out of Boscobel,” asked Wendi Stitzer.

“Forty-nine students are enrolled out currently,” answered Breunig. “And there are 38 enrolled into the district.”

The hopeful note, according to Dyer, is that parents of students requesting open enrollment may not actually send their children elsewhere. Parents sometimes apply simply to give themselves planning options and don’t act upon the request ultimately.

The district could reduce the expenditure by as much as $90,000 by offering an early retirement option to teachers with 20 years of experience age 57 and greater, Dyer explained. That number was based upon the possibility that all eligible teachers took the option and were replaced with new teachers at the base starting salary.

Dyer recommended the option be offered for a limited period of time.

“There are teacher contracts still out,” Dyer said. You could offer an incentive for retirement and then reassess positions that don’t have contracts signed yet. You will need to also look at support staff to make sure that you have what you need.”

With approval to begin the process of developing an offer, Dyer and administrative assistants Heather Breunig and Crystal Brown will put together a prospective offer and have it reviewed by the Wisconsin Education Association.

With federal rule changes expected relating to the Affordable Care Act, it is possible the school district’s Alternative Benefit Plan may not be in compliance in January, according to Crystal Brown. She recommended the school not change the plan at this time, as they may be eligible for an exemption.

The school currently offers a $550 payment to those who choose not to enroll in health insurance through the district.

In other business, the Boscobel School Board:

• approved hiring Craig Sommers and Arnold Burgess as custodians for the 2016-2017 school year;

• approved hiring Chelsi Stanek as the middle/high school secretary with fie days of training;

• approved Rhonda Zart as the long-term music substitute;

• approved the Summer FFA program for 80 hours, the same as in prior years;

• approved hiring student custodians as recommended;

• approved the Occupational Therapy contract with SaluCare and the Physical Therapy contract with Gundersen;

• approved the contract with Southwest Techincal College for the drivers education program;

• requested bids and tabled a decision on the AccuRace timing contract for track meets;

• approved the Camera Corner contract renewal for security cameras on the doors;

• approved allowing the administrative team to work with WEA member benefits to bring the 403b additional retirement plan documentation up to date;

• accepted resignations from David Thyren, Deborah Updike, and Velma Kay Teague;

• approved substitutes Stephanie Roth (paraprofessional/custodial/food service), Rosalie Shuck (custodial/food service), James Shuck (custodial), Jamie Ralph (custodial), Arnold Burgess (custodial), and Craig Sommers (custodial);

• approved donations thank-you letters to Reynold Brothers, LLC for hauling wood chips to the school forest, Gary Kjos for 19 round sleds, and to the Fennimore Mason Lodge #219 and Wisconsin Masonic Foundation for $3,190.92 designated to purchase two new replacement AED’s and accessories;

• approved the FFA overnight request to attend the FFA State Convention in Madison June 14-16; and

• approved a graduation request.

The next regular meeting of the Boscobel School Board is June 21 at 6:30 p.m.