Janesville60.5°

School cuts in Edgerton are 'going to hurt'

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
March 8, 2011
— The Edgerton School Board enters labor talks with the district's teachers union this week after learning that a district budget shortfall already at $500,000 could more than double under Gov. Scott Walker's biennial budget proposal, officials said.

Amy Horn-Delzer, a member of the school board and the board's labor negotiations committee, said the committee met behind closed doors with district officials Sunday night for a financial briefing to prepare for labor talks with the teachers union.


At the meeting, Superintendent Dennis Pauli and Business Manager Mark Worthing gave the board its first look at how pending state budget cuts could impact the district.


Horn-Delzer said the district estimates education cuts highlighted in Gov. Walker's budget plan could mean decreases in state aid of as much as $520 per student.


The district already is grappling with a looming budget gap next year, and was bracing for $500,000 in anticipated cuts in 2011-12, including planned teacher layoffs.


Horn-Delzer said that proposed state budget cuts could widen the district's financial shortfall by an additional $800,000, although she called the district's new budget estimates "very preliminary."


"We asked them (district administrators) to give us at least a general gist to enter into (labor) negotiations in a logical manner," Horn-Delzer said.


Horn-Delzer said one thing's clear:


"There's going to be some pretty significant cuts," she said. "It's going to hurt."


The information comes as the board's negotiations committee on Monday planned to exchange labor contract proposals with the teachers union.


The talks were planned since January, but union officials last week said the union is now eager to reach a contract extension before state legislators pass Gov. Walker's budget-relief bill.


The controversial bill seeks to curtail public union bargaining rights and to force the unions to pay more for health insurance and pension.


Edgerton's teachers union plans to offer concessions for its benefits, union President Mary Gallup has said.


The board's negotiations committee plans to further discuss the union's labor proposal in a closed-door meeting tonight, Horn-Delzer said. But she said Monday it was too early to say whether the committee could move into further talks with union later in the week.


"The opportunity is there. We will know more tonight after the open-session meeting," she said Monday.


Typically, the district settles labor contracts over a span of weeks, district officials have said.


Gallup said the union is gratified talks are starting because some area districts have stalled on labor talks amid uncertainty over the impact of Gov. Walker's proposed budget cuts and changes to labor laws.


"Our school board's still honoring the chance to go forward, and I think that shows respect," Gallup said Monday.



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