At this point, District Administrator Dave Poeschl does not know what the future holds for Waupaca schools.
Gov. Scott Walker introduced a state budget bill that cuts $834 million in state K-12 education spending over the next two years.
School districts will also see their revenue caps reduced by more than $500 per pupil, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
“We need to know the state aid allocation, our ability to increase revenues through property taxes and the revenue cap before we can answer the question of how this state budget will affect the Waupaca School District,” Poeschl said.
Although the district asked more than 30 teachers and support staff to sign agreements regarding the deadline for layoff notices, Poeschl hopes far fewer teachers will actually be laid off.
“Personnel decisions made to this point preserve the district’s ability to operate under the worst-case scenario,” Poeschl said. “I hope a combination of retirements and our conservative fiscal approach will mitigate the need to lay off so many personnel.”
Poeschl said the district “cast a wide blanket” when it gave agreements to delay layoff notices to more than 30 teachers last week.
“We don’t anticipate anywhere near that number of teachers being laid off,” he said.
In a recent report, DPI projected that the Waupaca School District would see its revenue cap cut by $1.6 million.
“Last year, we were under our revenue cap by $1.57 million,” according to Carl Hayek, the district’s business manager.
Poeschl noted that the district’s revenue cap may already be at the level that the governor has proposed in his budget. He said the Waupaca School Board has a long history of being fiscally conservative in order to avoid raising the tax levy.
However, Poechl said the savings from Walker’s budget repair bill do not add up to the revenue cuts in his proposed budget.
“The governor calculated that the cost savings from the teachers paying 5.8 percent of their retirement contributions plus 12 percent of their health insurance premiums will make up the loss in state aids,” Poeschl said. “But our teachers already pay 15 percent of the premium for family health insurance coverage, so we won’t see anything significant from that portion of the proposal.”
Hayek said the district’s expenditures for salaries for all staff totaled about $15 million. If they contribute 5.8 percent toward the retirement plan, then the district could realize about $870,000 that will help offset the decrease in state aid.
“We’re still in the midst of running the different scenarios based on the possible revenue caps,” Poeschl said.