Herald and Journal, April 24, 2000

HLWW board holds off some budget cuts, at least for now

By Andrea Vargo

An impassioned plea from drama and cheerleading students to the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board resulted in the reconsideration of those programs in the budget cuts planned for the coming school year last Monday.

Drama student Travis Kottila told the board about how he came to the high school, shy and quiet. He was not an athlete, he said.

His experience in the drama department has made him more confident and articulate, said Kottila.

He added that he couldn't imagine being able to do a job interview without the background in public speaking he now has.

Leading up to this was the background discussion by HLWW Superintendent Riley Hoheicel about how the budget cuts came about and where they will probably take place.

The need for cutting about $200,000 from the budget for the coming school year was impressed upon the board by Hoheisel.

Inflation, salaries, and other items contributed to the difference in revenues versus expenditures for the next school year, he said.

"We cannot put the district in the position of deficit spending over the long haul," Hoheisel stated.

2000-01 budget cuts

Hoheisel asked each of the HLWW principals to find areas to cut within their own schools.

HLWW Elementary and Winsted Elementary cuts include a classroom teacher ($39,000), and a para educator ($9,698), savings on a retired teacher ($15,000), plus miscellaneous items for an additional $3,700.

The majority of the cuts focus on the probationary teachers that have been terminated and consist of their salaries.

In addition to those cuts HLWW High School Principal Michael Day had several recommendations.

His first two were to go to the public with an additional levy to eliminate the deficit or spend down the reserve.

The cuts he could make would have a negative impact on programs and opportunities for the children, said Day.

He also felt the cuts would have a negative effect for the general public on a future bond referendum.

"This hurts me tremendously. I take this very much to heart," Day said.

"I tried to save as many teaching and instructional positions as possible. It is devastating to lose even one teacher," he said.

But if cuts have to be made, Day recommended cross country (2,500), cheerleading ($3,158), spring play ($6,174) speech (5,374), BWCA trip ($3,943), and one teaching position.

A ninth grade coach and referee costs will be cut for an additional $10,250, but this money will be reallocated to supervision duties, he said.

The small numbers of students participating in cross country caused it to be dropped.

Cheerleading, spring play, and speech cuts brought a room full of people to the school board meeting in their defense.

"Are these (particular cuts) set in stone?" asked parent Kent Confeld.

Hoheisel said he will recommend the cuts be implemented, although the board has until July 1 to approve a budget.

Cheerleading is a program that is being cut in more than one school in the state, according to both a teacher and a board member.

Confeld said he didn't think the board is looking down the road far enough.

"All our children are not athletes, nor should they be. Once a cut has been made, will it ever be put back?" he asked.

Pride in the drama program was evident as both parents and students made mention of the huge trophy case in the entry of the high school devoted to drama awards.

The board recommended students come back with ideas on how to fund the programs they want. Fundraisers were generally frowned upon, the feeling being the district has enough fundraisers already.

It all depends upon what the state legislature does, said Hoheisel.

If the legislature increases spending, the budget could be tweaked over the summer, and some of the items could possibly be put back, he said.

In the end, the board voted to accept all the recommended cuts except for the spring play, speech, and cheerleading.

It felt if no way is found for alternate funding, the items could still be cut at a later date.

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