Chequamegon School District faces tough choices to make up huge budget deficitSubmitted: 04/16/2015
Story By Kaitlyn Howe

Chequamegon School District faces tough choices to make up huge budget deficit
PARK FALLS - The Chequamegon School District will need to make some tough choices soon. It faces a budget deficit of more than half a million dollars for the next school year even after making staff cuts.

The district will probably take money from its fund balance to make up for some of the deficit. But even with that money, the district will need to lay off three full-time elementary teachers in the fall.

A cut in state aid is one of the major reasons for the deficit. The district was receiving more aid from the state as part of a five-year plan after the Glidden and Park Falls school districts consolidated to form the Chequameon School District in 2009, but that money dried up last year.

Despite the shortfall, the district doesn't want to cut the number of classes it offers.

"We're trying very hard to avoid eliminating those choices for kids," says District Administrator Dave Anderson. "We'll probably be looking at higher class sizes for those classes we do have as a way to address [the funding cut], at least initially."

But Anderson says the district won't be able to preserve those choices forever.

"At some point the budget shortfall will be so deep that we're going to have to take choices away as well," he says. "We're trying to avoid that, and frankly we're working hard right now lobbying the state legislature."

Administrators say the district could face a $2 million budget shortfall in two years. They also say it might have to push for a referendum to increase local property taxes if nothing changes.

A $700,000 referendum question failed in the district in 2012.

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