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Whitnall may face staffing cuts

Potential support staff losses raise concerns

May 5, 2009

A decline in enrollment may prompt the elimination of some teaching positions, but it's the possible elimination of support staff due to budget constraints that has Whitnall School District parents talking.

At an April 27 meeting, the Whitnall School Board heard from at least a dozen parents upset about proposed support staff cuts to the 2009-10 budget.

Reductions would eliminate funding for several part-time instructional and health aides, as well as other support staff jobs, including the equivalent of 3.8 custodial positions.

State funding woes

Administrators proposed support staff reductions following a directive from the School Board earlier this year to build the district budget for 2009-10 based on a no-increase in per student funding (compared to $274 more per pupil in the 2008-09 budget) from the state Department of Public Instruction.

What the actual figure will be in the coming school year is anyone's guess, but it won't be known until later this summer.

"It's still up in the air," said board member T.J. Anderson in an interview. "We're still looking at it."

Anderson, who was board treasurer until the recent reorganization meeting, said the board does not yet know the size of the deficit it might face this spring.

"We haven't been given the complete (proposed) budget yet," said Anderson, adding that the board likely will get a preliminary draft May 11.

Board President Bill Osterndorf said any decisions regarding eliminating support staff positions throughout the school system will not be made until later this month.

"We'll have to make some kind of decision in May so we can finish the budget," Osterndorf said. "The bottom line is that no decisions are being made at this point."

Enrollment and teacher cuts

So far the board is committed to eliminating funding for 1.5 teaching positions next school year - a loss attributed to declining enrollment at Whitnall Middle School, Osterndorf said.

"We're truly not looking to lay off teachers for budget purposes. What's happening is that there's a couple of (teaching) positions that won't be filled because of (smaller) classes," Osterndorf said. "It's really about the lack of need for those sections."

District Business Manager Amy Kohl was not available for comment as of press deadline.

John Neville can be reached at (262) 446-6609.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Whitnall School Board meeting

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 11

WHERE: Whitnall High School, 5000 S. 116th Street

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