school

An East High School student walks into a counseling office in this 2013 file photo. 

Area school districts are bracing for state budget cuts next year in the wake of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to cut a $127 million revenue stream that provided school districts $150 per student on top of their revenue limits.

That means the Sun Prairie School District could lose around $1.1 million next school year, while the Middleton-Cross Plains School District could face a $960,450 loss, based on the amount each district receives this school year.

“It’s been a hectic last 10 days or so after the governor’s announcement,” Middleton-Cross Plains spokesman Perry Hibner said Thursday.

Walker needs to close a roughly $2 billion budget shortfall for 2015-17. The governor’s proposal brings the per student funding back in the 2016-17 school year at about $165 per student. He also has said the Legislature could put back some of that funding.

Even so, school districts will have to make up the difference next school year.

“We aren’t sure yet,” Hibner said about how the district is likely to handle the loss of funding. “We’re going to look at everything we do. We don’t want to cut curriculum, we don’t want to raise class sizes, but we’re going to look at everything.”

The district will likely face between a $1.1 million to $1.5 million budget deficit if the funding cut is approved by the Legislature and if the district can negotiate a smaller increase in the cost of employee health care, which is currently expected to rise 20 percent, Hibner said.

Within Dane County, the Madison School District faces the largest loss at $4.1 million, based on current funding levels. The Sun Prairie School District comes in second.

In McFarland, the loss to their $23 million budget would likely be about $309,150.

Jeff Mahoney, director of business and technology services at the McFarland School District, said in an email to district staff that a budget deficit of between $500,000 and $1 million is likely for the next school year, which includes keeping a 3 percent wage increase and expecting a 7 percent health insurance cost increase.

Mahoney also told staff the news isn’t a worst-case scenario because of the community’s willingness to support referendums and well-managed finances.

“This allows us to use a combination of budget changes and budget reserves to weather brief financial storms,” he wrote. “However, this financial picture will require more than just brief fixes.”

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