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Edgar still has need for referendum, board told

With a $50,000 deficit projected for next school year’s budget, Edgar School District continues to need to pass a referendum in order to keep programs intact, district bookkeeper Morgan Mueller told the Edgar Board of Education last week Wednesday.

“We understand the timing is not good considering the pandemic and the possible hardships it may be causing our community, but unfortunately our needs have not gone away,” she said. “We still need the support of a passed referendum to keep our school strong and competitive.”

Mueller said the district will likely close this school year with surplus funds, but these will not carry over to next year’s budget.

The bookkeeper said the school district saved $94,000 from school closing early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The district, she said, will save $34,000 from not having to hire substitute teachers, $14,000 in not having to buy school bus fuel and $45,000 from a discount on its busing contract. The district will save an additional $40,000 in operations and maintenance.

Mueller said her recommendation is to take $92,000 of these savings and, with another $48,000 already budgeted, make a full gap payment owed the Marathon County Special Education Program. She said two sections of roof, one over the school auditorium and another over the technology education classrooms, should be recoated for an additional $52,000.

Mueller said Edgar is expected to receive $24,000 this school year from the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands that can be used to support virtual instruction.

Looking to next year’s budget, Mueller said the district will benefit from health insurance increasing at a 3.4 percent clip, not 8 percent as feared. The savings are $34,000. The district will also benefit from an $85,000 list of budget tightening measures, including elimination of student accident insurance, athletic budget reductions, limiting field trip expenses, eliminating a college English expense and ending teacher overloads.

Mueller said funding from the state is currently uncertain. The state could reduce state aid, she said, and this would push up property taxes but not affect district spending. Limits on per pupil spending, however, Mueller added, would tighten the district’s budget. She said that the district’s student count–used to calculate revenue caps– would suffer if summer school is not held in July.

Mueller said one-time cuts to the district budget would not help in a following year. “Some of the cuts made for 2020-21 are one time only,” she said. “We cannot rely on them going forward year to year.”

Mueller said state law would allow the district to float another referendum in November or in February and April of next year. She said school staff hopes to have a “feeling” by June whether a November referendum is at all feasible.

In other school board business:

_ Board members accepted the resignations of middle school English teacher Hailey Warner and girls head basketball coach Betty Urmanski. Board members agreed to hire Marisa Doll as a middle school guidance/assessment coordinator.

_ Elementary school principal Lisa Witt announced proposed sections for next school year. Four-year-old kindergarten will have one teacher and two part-time aides teaching two sections with 50 students. An Early Childhood teacher and para-professional will be integrated into the program. Two and one-half teachers will teach two sections of kindergarten, while the same number of teachers will instruct 36 second graders in two sections. Two and one half teachers will teacher 40 third graders in two sections and two teachers plus a full-time aide will teach 38 fourth grade students in two sections. Fifth grade will have two teachers and a full-time aide instructing 47 students in two sections.

_ Principal Witt announced the United Way Hunger Coalition has donated weekend food boxes to 12 Edgar families. The Edgar Lions Club has donated another $1,000 towards this project. She said the Community Foundation of Northcentral Wisconsin has donated $2,500 to assist Edgar families be able to purchase “essentials.”

She announced students will be required to finish out the school year by handing in materials on Tuesday, June 2. Students will be able to meet next year’s teachers with online ZOOM meetings on Wednesday, June 3.

_ High school and middle school principal Tom McCarty said he sent out surveys to parents and students concerning graduation and prom. He said he was researching a partnership with Rural Virtual Academy.