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School budget crisis

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 8:34 am
by whiterino13
I went to that School Board advisory meeting to learn what steps the administration and School Board intended to take to reduce the severe tax burden on the citizens of this District. If there was a plan, they didn’t tell us. They wanted input. The input I have is tough:
1. One principal for each school.
2. Cut the number of supervisors, teachers, aides, and support staff.
3. Re-negotiate all contracts.
4. Stop paying for classes not on campus
5. Make all extracurricular activities self-paying.
6. Move the administrator back to the School Building.
7. No more "in-service" days.

Item number one: One principal for the entire school would be better.

Item number two: There are fewer students. You don’t need all those teachers/aides. You don’t need an assistant administrator, even if she did move over to the school. She is still an extra body that can be cut. Custodian services might be better contracted than directly paid for by the District. Has anyone looked into temp agencies for this service?

Item number three: Whenever Big Business is in financial trouble, they ask for concessions from their workers. If concessions will be not be made, then lay everyone off and begin again. A job that may pay less is better than no job at all. I’m sure that the well-intended “educators” will see that the concessions are needed.

Item number four: Stop all off-campus classes. One day before Christmas break, Sara Park became a classroom as many of the students went there for skating. If someone wants to go to Nicolet, then ask the parents to pay for it. Sorry, but going to Diary Queen or Noah’s Ark doesn’t constitute a good day of learning. The School District asked for an expanded building, use it.

Item number five: If a child wishes to play sports, music, whatever, then the take the total cost of the activity (including coaches’/conductors’ salary and benefits, the use of the gym, etc) and divide it by the number of students in that activity. Playing basketball when it costs substantially more than a pair of Nikes is the kind of reality check needed for students and parents alike.

Item number six: The real estate market isn’t the best right now, but upkeep on this building is a financial drain.

Item number seven: These are the days of teleconferencing and internet. Are so many days really needed for parent/teacher face offs? The whole school doesn’t need to close when only a few teachers attend those conferences. Teaching is not for sissies.

They didn't call it a crisis but when you are drowning in a sea of red ink, it is a crisis. You can’t have everything: sports, arts, small class sizes, gifted and talented programs, the library (even though there is an under-utilized one at the end of Lincoln Street). And you can not bankrupt the community. Offer what the District can afford. GET OUT OF DEBT. What a concept!

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 12:47 pm
by jersey6876
First let me say that my children do not attend the Tomahawk Public School District. One of my children attends St. Mary’s Catholic School and the others are not yet school age. This means that my husband and I are not only pay taxes for the public school but also sacrifice financially to pay for tuition for St. Mary's School. Our children will one day attend Tomahawk Schools and I agree that there needs to be a conscious effort to control school costs; however, certain ideas presented for how the school costs should be cut are not well researched.

>>If someone wants to go to Nicolet, then ask the parents to pay for it.<<

There are requirements that a school district must adhere to, as put forth by the Wisconsin Statutes and by Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

No. Sections 118.55-5,6,and 7r,
Wis. Stats, and Article X, Section 3,
of the Wisconsin Constitution make it
clear that the school district is
responsible for these costs when both
high school and college credit are

This is not a choice for the School District, it is required.

>> Item number five: If a child wishes to play sports, music, whatever, then the take the total cost of the activity (including coaches’/conductors’ salary and benefits, the use of the gym, etc) and divide it by the number of students in that activity.<<

I guess that these activities will be reserved only for those children whose parent’s are affluent. In other words, if the parent’s cannot afford to pay the fees then “tough luck” for their children. I think that this one constitutes economic discrimination. I agree with Old Scout that a MODEST fee could be charged for extra-curricular activities.

There does need to be cost effective decisions made concerning our school district; however, when identifying “solutions” we need to consider requirements put forth by the state, which are many, and we should also make sure these “solutions” will not adversely affect our children’s education nor should they prevent students from taking part in available activities. With society expecting more from our children we need to provide our children with the tools they need to compete in society. This means providing schools that will give our children the best possible education.

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 2:03 pm
by nugget
There are several good ideas posted above. I however have a slight problem with the wage reduction for teachers. Pay them and pay them well!!! Education for the people who are going to run this country and the world is something I don't believe we can skimp on. As I looked over my tax bill it did not seem the school portion was that out of line. Don't get me wrong, I agree, cuts do have to be made.


Posted: Wed Feb 12, 2003 12:48 am
by Dopey Dwarf

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Wed Feb 12, 2003 10:27 pm
by Deb Richardson
Some great points have been made and some great ideas for cutting costs. As far as extra-curricular activities are concerned, I agree that an activity fee would be in order, however as whiterino 13 stated more than a pair of Nike's would be a reality check for students and parents. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For those of us that have gone through sports at all levels, there has been much more than the cost of a pair of Nike's involved in participation. I'm talking weekend tournaments, that during the middle school years, were our cost and responsiblity for transportation, as well as tournament fees. Many of us have paid too for summer camps. May I add sending your kid to summer sports camp just isn't for "creating a sports star", its about becoming independent and building personal interaction skills. So by the time high school comes along a fee to participate wouldn't be a reality check, but just an accepted reality. There are those that due to hardship could not participate if a fee was accessed, I think the school district could work that out, much like the hot lunch program.
In response to rmpg, kids in our school district below the middle school level are not transported to sporting activities by the district. Activities such as Destination Imagingation does transport elementary aged students to competitions. At one time the Swim Club did get transportation to meets, however it is my understanding that was something that was done away with when the swim teams were formed.
Renegotiating the teachers contracts could be a possiblity, but not cutting pay, we could loose some very valuable teachers. Other areas might help, possibly insurance, our teachers do have an excellent plan that most of us only dream about having.
We have a very beautiful facility, that not only inhances the quality of our education, by not having our students in broom closets, but is a plus for bringing people to our community that maybe willing to commute to other communities in our area. We all win then. I guess that the ridicule of something that can't be undone is really unjust.

<small>[ February 13, 2003, 04:17 PM: Message edited by: Deb Richardson ]</small>

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 6:32 pm
by Merse
Deb - the last sentence of your post is tremendous! Thank you for reminding me of this simple straightforward fact.

I didn't attend the public forum, and I feel bad about that. I would have liked to ask if the idea could be explored to put senior business-related students in charge of some duties like attendance, and have more senior students fill in for teacher aide positions....? In my opinion, If any jobs are cut, it should not be teaching positions.

I would support idea of sports/extra curricular fees, including Deb's reference to hardships being worked out same as hot lunch program. I would also support idea of cutting the out-of-school school days such as activiites at Sara park, etc.

My son was one of those students whose kindergarten class was in the broom closet. I supported expanding the school because of that, and I understood the climbing enrollment projections. It is sad to see that tool didn't also predict this decline? How is that done in other districts? So we don't have this same situation happening repeatedly, could better tools be found to prevent this part of future shortfalls?

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 9:40 pm
by Dave
Not that it is particularly germaine at this point, but the predictions concerning declining enrollment have been available for many years. If nothing else, you must remember that from K-12 you have a 12 year cycle. You can look at what is coming in on one end and what is going out on the other and get a pretty good idea what is going to happen for the next 12 years. The only wild card factor is people moving into the district, and we have known for many years that most of the people moving here were going to be retirees simply because the job base has not changed that much. This is the reason we need a strategic plan which will map out what we are going to do for the next 10 years. We have all the information we need to avoid future mistakes but you still have to believe the numbers if the whole thing is to work. Looking at a downward enrollment trend but saying it wasn't going to happen, at least in retrospect, makes a lot of people look pretty silly right now. We all need to work to make sure that we don't make this kind of mistake in the future.

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 9:43 pm
by Kerry Tobin
On a side note: Many of the out-of-school activities are in some way partially or completely paid for by the students. I remember paying for some activities and other being covered by fundraiser money.

Also, I would hope people are looking into what they say before they suggest it. I heard a suggestion on the radio in another part of the state (yes this is a problem everywhere this year) that many suggested was a great idea. A few minutes later someone else called and pointed out just how stupid the idea really was. The suggestion? Cut the board member's salary. The reply, their salary was an very low amount per year, the cut wouldn't help much of anything.

I support the idea of moving Administrators into the facility. Cutting work days, etc. probably wouldn't help, the contracts include those if I remember correctly. Also, those inservice days can be incredibly important and I hope they are using every second of them to cram in as much training as possible. Often computer training, etc. can be crammed into those days.

Also, is everyone that is suggesting sports pay for themselves helping support those same activities when asked? I remember selling fruit for basketball, another sport sells newspaper subscriptions, etc. All of these help cover costs and could help reduce the school's portion of the bill.

I like the suggestion of having students do more but there are a few problems with this. First, there aren't a lot of jobs this is going to cut. Second, accountability goes out the window. Too many friends/favors that would get through.

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 11:55 pm
by Dave
Cut a board members "salary" in this school district and you would just about pay for the school libary's subscription to the Tomahawk Leader for the year. These are definitely volunteer positions here in the Northwoods. They may pay people somewhere else in the state but it must be in Madison and Milwaukee. As far as the other suggestions go, I would say we need to look at everything. Even if a suggestion turns out to be something that won't result in a savings it is better that people are thinking and talking. The more heads that work on a problem the better the solution will be.


Posted: Fri Feb 14, 2003 12:14 am
by Dopey Dwarf

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 1:02 pm
by Old Scout
One point of consern is the administration building. With declining enrollments and all the room gained by the new additions on the school perhaps it is time to sell the building, eliminate the costs of maintaining it and recover the value of it. I always felt that the school administrator should be at the school where he has contact with the people he works with and this would be a good opportunity to make this move.

Another thing that bothers me is the idea of cutting classes to fifteen students per class.

Give me a break !

That sounds more like trying to justify some of the teachers keeping their jobs even if there is nothing for them to really do. Any teacher that can not handle twenty to twenty-five students needs to think of looking for a different profession. I can see that need in special Ed. classes but not in the general school population.

I also feel that sports and other extra curicular should charge a modest fee to participate. It doesn't have to pay the entire bill but should at least help defray some of the expenses.

I am sure there are other places where expenses can be cut, but these would be a good start.

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 4:22 pm
by Mel
I totally agree with Whiterino13!! Everytime I enter the Elementary School there is so much staff!! Do we really need so many aides?? If the outgoing Seniors out number the incoming Kindergarteners they "should" lay off teachers! If the teachers need to have larger classrooms then so be it - we have to do something here!! I do not agree with having to pay book fees, lab fees, etc..this is what our taxes are for!! The tax payers cannot afford anymore!! The administration building really should be moved to the school and "sell" that large has to cost a fortune to heat that big old building!! Everyone here has their own opinion and is allowed to voice the end it "will" be the school board that makes the final decisions. I wish you all the best!!

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 11:11 pm
by bubba'smomma
I have to say that I give you all credit for even attempting to address the budget crisis-you are stronger than I. I do have one comment, and it relates to the declining enrollment.

My husband and I moved here several years ago from a much larger city. We were in our early twenties when we moved, and intended to make Tomahawk home; it felt so right here. After a couple years we even built a new home, and have since had one child.

Over the years, we have found that Tomahawk just wasn't cutting it: The taxes are too high, there are few decent paying jobs, no retail shopping, and on and on. Sure, we all think of our city as being so wonderful the way it is, but the fact of the matter is that we cannot afford to keep things the same. There is insufficient tax base here, and it's killing those of us who otherwise would have enrolled our children at this school. We, as a family, found ourselves relocating to a larger city in an effort to provide the most for our family. Tomahawk just lost one more enrollee.

Bless those of you involved in this crisis: Tomahawk is a great place, but with the "small town" attitude, I really fear you're going to find yourselves in a pinch more than bigger cities and school districts. Your problem lies far beyond a budget crisis at school; that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2003 6:11 pm
by Deb Richardson
Too bad bubba'smomma you feel the way you do. I would say you are folks with " big town" attitudes, that try to make a big town out of a small town. Most of us that have relocated here have done so knowing what is offered here and what isn't offered. As far as the school is concerned, there's much to be offered here, too bad you didn't stick around to find out. I hope your child doesn't get lost in the shuffle of a big school. Some folks are meant for small town life and others aren't. Apparently you aren't.

<small>[ February 21, 2003, 07:26 PM: Message edited by: Deb Richardson ]</small>

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2003 9:54 am
by JFlosum
In Japan, a country very often tossed out as one of the best education systems in the world, teachers and educators are on the same soci-economic level as doctors, lawyers and accountants. Their administrators are treated like giants in industry.

In this country we treat teachers like they should think themselves lucky to be given the opportunity to teach our unruly kids. It would not surprise me that if many people still didn?t think they should work for room and board like back in the 1800?s.

Everyone considers himself or herself an expert on education just because they went to school. Of course the worse they did in school or the bigger the **** raiser they were, the bigger the expert they think they are, it?s payback time in their feeble minds.

Fact is we have turned our education system into a baby-sitting service for people that probably should have never had kids to begin with.

We throw all the responsibilities of parenting we can on the schools and then wonder why in the world we get less then we hope for in basic education.

Everyone and their brother demands and gets access to our kids via the schools: art associations, lung association, rape-crises, save the earth, safe the cats and dogs, don?t do drugs, don?t do this or do do that; one do-gooder group after another. And then we wonder why they can?t read and write.

Most if not all of this stuff should be and one time was the responsibilities of parents.

Then we get nonsense like the ?No Child Left Behind? from the government bureaucracies when in reality the brutal truth is, there are going to be plenty of children left behind. Always has been and always will be.

We mainline extremely difficult problem children into normal class rooms that take up enormous resources and then wonder whey we don?t have text books and microscopes, but we have kids with nurses assigned to them because they can not function on their own.

We feed them breakfast and lunch because the parents won?t feed them decent meals at home. We have the Toothfairy coming in to teach them how to brush their teeth and Smokey-the-bear teaching them how to put out a cigarette, then wonder why they can?t make change for a dollar or find Iraq on a world map. We hand out condemns and tell our kids how dangerous sex can be and teen pregnancy continues to be a major problem.

We have tied the hands of schools on discipline and complain and moan that there is too much drugs, crime and violence on school compasses, but heaven forbid if you peek into a locker and violate some gun toting, drug pushes rights! In rushes the ACLU and half dozen other?s to file suits against the teacher, the principal and anyone within a country mile.

We have created huge bureaucracies at state and federal levels that collect enormous amounts of education tax dollars and sends only a small percentage back to the class room, the rest is eat up in Washington or Madison or other state/federal bureaucracies.

We shift enormous resources form our smartest and brightest kids to our slowest and least capable. The Federal Title I program is a redistribution of the wealth program and only one example that should be eliminated, as should the entire Washington education bureaucracy.

The public makes all these decisions. The same public that never misses an opportunity to whine about the public education system ?they? have created, not educators, they just try to do the best they can with a system that was created by what someone visiting form outer space would assume were idiots.

Then we begrudge principals because they drive Porches when in reality if that same person were in the private sector he would probably make twice the money with half the headaches. Truth is that in all likelihood, you should probably be **** thankful you have him.

Incidentally, this is not a Tomahawk or Wisconsin problem, it is a national crisis. Most school districts are feeling severe financial pain.

<small>[ February 23, 2003, 09:57 PM: Message edited by: Kerry Tobin ]</small>


Posted: Tue Feb 25, 2003 12:33 am
by Dopey Dwarf

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Tue Feb 25, 2003 7:51 pm
by patsy
The last few messages were right on! The US is the only place where the schools have to try to be not only an educator, but also a parent!

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Thu Feb 27, 2003 8:06 pm
by Anita
JFlosum, I don't always agree with you, but you hit the nail PRECISELY on the head. The sound you hear is my applause.


Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2003 10:58 pm
by Dopey Dwarf

Re: School budget crisis

Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2003 1:20 pm
by Fushia
I would like to discuss an issue regarding where the money sometimes goes and it isn't the participating member of the school teams or the parent that decides it.

When the schedules are made up as to where the basketball, football, track, swimming, golf, teams etc. play: it isn't a question to the athletes of HOW FAR IN MILES AND HOURS they travel to these events? It is up to the athletic director choosing these far away schools sometimes even on a Saturday traveling 3 hrs. away to play a game.Many times traveling to Ashland and even further for regional and sectional games. The parents/children have NO INPUT on how far they travel. This isn't decided by them, so why blame them for the $$$$ thrown out on sports? and bus travel? Some of the games could be played closer in distance for the non conference games that are played. This year the one of the team's traveled to Superior on a Saturday and had to come home in fog and icy roads. I don't think the kids should be blamed for the sometimes high costs of playing a sport when they aren't in control of the situation of WHO they play? where they go? I do agree a fee could be paid for each sport, which they already are doing. Some of the events and travel that goes on isn't supervised as to costs and the students will suffer with it being taken away? Don't blame the kids! ;)