Trimming the annual budget is going to get more difficult for the Stoughton Area School District if its board wants to maintain programming and ideal class sizes.
By a 7-1 vote, the board approved cutting $606,330 in its 2020-21 staffing levels Monday night, following administrative recommendations. Steve Jackson voted against the staffing plan, with Holly Tellander abstaining.
The trims are equivalent to around eight full-time positions, for the school year that starts July 1, but they do not involve layoffs or reductions in programming district superintendent Tim Onsager.
He added that class sizes were kept in line with district policy.
“We went into this year looking at our staff recommendations based on several factors – class size guidelines, we looked at trying to right size our staffing with our declining enrollment,” he said.
Positions to be cut or left unfilled as a result of lack of students include a full-time special education learning strategist, a part-time elementary orchestra teacher, two elementary classroom teachers, a Kegonsa physical education teacher, a middle school German teacher and a high school science teacher.
Onsager said the recommendations were also made with future fiscal management in mind, as the district faces deep deficits in coming years, and unusual uncertainty with state funding because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic effects.
“We could be short on budget anywhere from $300,000 to $600,000 next year, depending on the state, and the year after, anywhere from $1.2 million to $2.8 million,” he said.
Board member Allison Sorg noted the board has the ability to adjust the staffing plan based on new information.
“If we end up needing to make modifications based on additional students coming in or out, or additional needs within the classroom, we still have the flexibility to be able to do that,” she said. “This isn’t concrete, set in stone, this is just guiding where we’re going with our budget, with our staffing.”
Onsager said while the staffing model is based on “face to face” teaching in schools, the district is prepared to adjust if that needs to be modified, or if virtual schooling will continue.
“We’re looking at all those scenarios,” he said. “At some point in summer, we’re going to have to announce how we’re going to start. If we can’t logistically meet the needs of students, we may have to adjust staff or add staff. There are a lot of moving pieces.
“I worry about our bus drivers and custodial staff if we have to come back and clean everything as thoroughly as some people are suggesting – decontaminating the entire school multiple times during the day,” Onsager added.