How Does the Proposed State Budget Affect the Green Bay Area Public School District?

The current political climate has caused a lot of debate in Wisconsin communities, including here in Green Bay.  There is fear and uncertainty, not just with educators, but all public workers. I believe district staff has been highly professional and focused on student learning.

At some point in history, there was a switch in the perception of education from being an investment in the future to an expense and a burden to taxpayers. My hope is that all sides come together and find a solution that is fiscally sound, but doesn’t harm the quality of education of the children of Wisconsin, our future workforce that will be our policemen, doctors, teachers, and entrepreneurs.

This year we have 140 teachers and 15 administrators (including myself) who have announced their retirement. I know this was not an easy decision, and many felt that they had many more years to share with their peers and students. The wisdom and history of these staff members will be greatly missed. We choose to work in education not for the summers off, but to share our passion for learning and to make a difference in the lives of every child that walks into our classrooms.

There is a rumor in the community that if the state budget is passed with all provisions, we will be cutting our most experienced teachers to save money. This is absolutely not true. We value both our experienced and newly hired staff and hope to retain as many teachers as possible through attrition.

Regardless of the fiscal outcome, I want to reassure you our first priority is providing a quality education to the children of Green Bay while working within the budget given to us by the state. Looking at the proposal, the district will face a deficit of about $19-20 million, as the district will receive $550 less revenue per student. Projected increases in employee contributions for health insurance and retirement will offset $10-11 million of that shortfall, leaving the district with a $9-$10 million deficit.

The state will freeze revenue allocations in the following programs: Special Education, SAGE, Bilingual/Bicultural Aid, High Cost Special Education Aid, Transportation Aid, and a 10 percent cut in School Breakfast and English Language Learner Aid. There will be a continuation of SAGE and Four-Year-Kindergarten – a plus for providing quality school readiness instruction to our most vulnerable population.

The open enrollment application period would be extended from February through April. We hope by continuing to support programs such as International Baccalaureate, the John Dewey Academy, and the Fine Arts Institute, that students from other districts will use this as an opportunity to make Green Bay the school district of choice.

We are continuing to study the budget proposal and how it affects our district. Once the bill passes, in whatever form it may take through deliberation, we will update the community of our plan of action.

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