Seeking to avoid programming cuts or staff layoffs as growing budget deficits loom, the Stoughton Area School District is trying to cut expenses where it can.

District administrators are recommending trimming $606,330 in staffing costs, equivalent to around eight full-time positions, for the 2020-21 school year that starts July 1. Positions to be cut or left unfilled due to 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.

The board plans to vote on the recommendation at its May 18 meeting.

Superintendent Tim Onsager told board members Monday night the recommendation was made in consideration of the district’s continued declining enrollment, and that around 75% of its budget is devoted to staffing.

“We needed to right-size our staffing, get staffing more in line with our numbers and our declining enrollment,” he said. “There are no increases, they are all decreases.”

Onsager said the goal was to avoid laying off staff members, but to leave vacancies where possible in cases of retirements or resignations.

“(We wanted to) accommodate our students and not reduce programming or options but reduce some positions,” he said. “And stay within class size targets.”

Onsager said even in a “best-case” scenario, the district faces a $300,000 budget deficit next year, which then increases greatly to around $1.8 million the following year, and possibly more than $2 million for the 2022-23 school year.

“We went into this year knowing we had budget reductions next year that may be obtainable, but the year after is going to hurt a little more,” he said.

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