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North Crawford school board hears report on decrease in state aid
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It was just below the surface and it didn’t take long for the impact of the latest proposed cut in state aid to schools emerged at the North Crawford School Board meeting last Thursday night.

The board accepted the resignations of district food service director Kay Teague and part-time high school math teacher Dave Fanta.

Teague will assume a position as a cook in the program and a new person will be taking on the food service director responsibilities. But what about the three-quarters-time math teaching position? How will the district replace Fanta?

Only two teachers in the school are known to have the proper certification to teach the high school math courses Eileen Roble and Martha Buening. There is a possibility that another staff member may hold certification to teach the courses and district administrator Dr. Dan Davies promised to look into the matter.

However, the real issue at the meeting was the reduced state funding. Going into the year, the district was already looking at ways to cut $150,000 to $175,000 from the annual budget in response to previous reductions in state aid, as well as the district’s own declining enrollment. The projections showed the district needed to cut spending by that amount in the next school year and about the same amount in the following school year 2016-2017.

Davies was blunt about cutting expenses with the board, which contains a few recently appointed and elected members.

“There’s only couple of things you can do,” the administrator said. “You can reduce or eliminate programs or you can go to a referendum to exceed the revenue limit cap.”

Davies told the board that the salaries and benefits of personnel working for the district were about the only things that could be eliminated to produce the kind of savings needed to balance a budget and keep the district from rapidly depleting its fund balance.

“Unfortunately, the fixed costs are pretty much just that, they are fixed and there’s not much we can do about it,” Davies told the board.

As if the situation wasn’t difficult enough for the local school district, the governor’s budget proposal to eliminate $150 per pupil in state aid has only deepened the schools financial problems.

Calculations done with Wisconsin Department of Instruction figures show North Crawford would lose $67,950 in the 2015-16 school year from the $150 per pupil reduction in the governor’s proposed budget. The good news is increases in sparsity aid and aid for rural transportation costs, which were also proposed in the governor’s budget, will help to offset the cut in state aid by about half. North Crawford would receive a $29,550 sparsity aid increase and $5,300 more in rural transportation aid to reduce the proposed state aid cut to $33,100 for the district in the coming year.

Nevertheless, Davies pointed out to the board that the net result of this and previous cuts will mean the district’s per pupil state aid is headed to the 2009 level.

As the board pondered this situation, one board member, Wade Dull, brought up another financial concern.

“At some point we’re going to have to put a new roof on the place,” Dull said.

Davies conceded that the facility is now more than 20 years old and discussed the district’s ongoing plan for dealing with the roof. North Crawford Director of Maintenance Harry Heisz is working with Davies on the roof situation. The pair believes replacement of the roof is seven to 10 years out with an aggressive annual maintenance program, according to the district administrator. In fact, Davies said the roof might last 15 years.

It is possible the roof project may be considered an energy-saving measure and the state might allow the cost to be recouped beyond the tax levy revenue cap.

Davies told the board that the district was in the process of setting up a Capital Project Fund, known as Fund 40, to put aside money for such a project, but the district can no longer find money to save in such a fund.

Early in the meeting, the board, approved a bid of $23,710 from Blue Dog Cycle in Viroqua to buy 55 bikes and helmets with federal Pep Grant funds aimed at improving fitness and wellness of students in the district. Blue Dog’s bid was actually higher than Trek Bikes of Madison’s bid of $22,690 for 55 bikes and helmets.

North Crawford PEP Grant Director Tarasa Lown explained the committee administering the grant was recommending Blue Dog over Trek because of their proximity to the school and because of their offer to work with the school and the tech ed classes on maintenance of the bicycles.

In other business, the North Crawford School Board:

• passed a  new coaching evaluation and renewal procedure

• approved Tina Volden and Eric Matz as weight room supervisors

• approved the North Crawford Playhouse positions and volunteers for the spring play

• agreed to again contract with CESA #4 for audiology service

• approved an agreement with Boscobel to share services of a special education secretary Shayla Pickett

• approved a new drivers ed agreement with Kelly Olson from DeSoto to allow instructor Gary Hines to teach behind the wheel at a rate will $65 less than the former SWTC program and the district will still pay half of the student’s behind the wheel fees, if the they take the classroom portion of the course through North Crawford

• approved an overnight trip to Milwaukee for the accounting class

• approved spring athletic coaches, including Dave Bergum, baseball; Tyler Patzner, assistant baseball; Melanie Jelinek, softball; Angie Wall, assistant softball; Mike Allbaugh, boys track; Ed Heisz, girls track; Melissa Fradette, assistant girls track; Scott Schellhorn, middle school boys track; and Luke Spicer, middle school girls track