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Ellsworth School Board discuss options after failed referendum

The Ellsworth School Board got a look at future options Monday following last month’s failed referenda.

Of most immediate concern was the budgetary reduction process in response to the rejection of the levy override referendum. Superintendent Barry Cain emphasized he didn’t intend for the $800,000 in reductions from the next budget to happen Monday, but wanted to advance ideas about the process. Cain also reminded even if the override had passed, school officials knew budget cuts were going to be necessary.

The superintendent viewed the process as a matter of what the result will be in light of each cut and what the savings will be. He assured staff will be part of the reductions, considering the amount which must be achieved, and explained state requirements for non-renewal of teaching staff. These are more stringent than for non-renewing custodial and food service staff, he said.

Some of the district’s fund balance could be used toward maintenance, he said, though cautioning there are times when the balance is being tapped for cash flow. He also discussed the possibility of another special referendum election, either in August or November of this year, or February or April of next year. In the latter case, if funds were approved, they couldn’t be used during that school term, he added.

Board Member Dan Kaler favored proceeding with the $800,000 in cuts, then perhaps considering a referendum election in August to see whether this is the route district voters really want the schools to take. An open meeting on the matter would be held.

Especially because of the timeline involved in teacher non-renewal, Cain encouraged the board to schedule a special meeting about budget reductions before next month’s regular gathering. Members decided to hold this meeting on Monday, March 31, at 6 p.m.

For more please read the March 5 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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