WEST ALLIS - Before the West Allis-West Milwaukee school district's April 4 operational referendum, district leaders warned that a defeat would mean program cuts and/or fee increases. On Monday, April 24, administrators presented the school board with a list of 26 options.
The administration recommended steps totaling $804,000, including eliminating sports programs at intermediate schools to save $176,000 and revising school start times to achieve $150,000 in savings.
District employees' share of health insurance costs would go from 10 to 12 percent, while a 12 percent contribution would be imposed for dental insurance. The two moves would bring in $400,000.
Administrators estimate they must reduce expenditures by nearly $2.2 million leaving $1,376,000 more to find.
Administrators offered the board a 26-option menu of $6 million in cuts to choose from at the budget reduction workshop.
The $2,180,000 total is less than the $2.5 million the district had originally projected as the spending reduction target, but Superintendent Marty Lexmond remarked that "we've cut $8 million already" over the past two years, so "it's not possible (to cut more) without significant impact."
Lexmond said the workshop was scheduled because "we're trying to get a set of directions from the board. How do you want us to get out of this crisis?"
The superintendent said afterwards he expects a formal vote on the moves the board chooses at its June 24 meeting.
On Monday, Lexmond told the board the district would eliminate at least 20.8 teacher positions in the 2017-18 budget, and 13 teachers will get a preliminary notice of non-renewal, which they are required to receive by Friday.
"This is largely a result of enrollment declines," Lexmond said. With normal attrition, "we'll likely some of these teachers return" by fall, he added.
Before the workshop, a total of 13 persons spoke about the district's dilemma. About 60 attended the meeting.
Joey Elliott, a freshman cross country runner at Nathan Hale High School, said that "I never would have joined the high school team had there not been a middle school team."
He also said a possible elimination of music lessons for elementary school pupils would be a "terrible mistake," calling it the kind of program "which keeps people in our district and attracts them.
"Please do not allow mistakes adults made to affect our kids," he said, referring to overspending in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
Vets should go
Parent Angela Machesky praised Lexmond, his team of administrators and several newer board members, saying "you guys are going to turn this around, I know it."
She then called for veteran board members Sue Sujecki and Pat Kerhin to resign.
"I don't know what happened behind closed doors," Machesky said, but added the veterans "were here for this entire mess."
Parent Katie Wielichowski said possible cuts to the district's technology integration program "are literally setting (students) up for failure. You will be taking the city backwards if you go forward with this."
Longtime local activist Robert Braun appeared to chide some of the speakers, asking "where were all the complainers when mistakes were made? You've got to speak up."
Director of business services Andrew Chromy said the district's potential 2018 tax levy is $42,454,748, with a projected tax rate of $9.94 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 17 cents, although enrollment and state aid figures have yet to be set.
"We are projecting a decrease" in state aid, Chromy said, due to a one-time $7 million lawsuit settlement payment the district received some months ago,