On Monday, April 26th, the WGSD School Board held its monthly business meeting. At the meeting, approximately 20 members of the community addressed the school board and administration about the surprise cut to the orchestra program. Among the speakers were several current and former students that expressed how important the orchestra program is/was to them. In the eight years that I have been covering WGSD school board meetings, we have never had this many students express their concerns about the school board’s decision. You can watch the WGSD District Facebook Video recording at this link. The citizen input begins around 35:00 minutes into the meeting.
School Board Expresses Appreciation for Community Input
Several Board Members thanked the crowd at the conclusion of community input. Board President Amanda Fiehweg made the following statement:
I just want to say thank you to everyone for coming tonight. It is really heartwarming to have you all here even if it is for something you are unhappy about. We are just really glad to have you and to have you speak up for your community and things you are passionate about. So please know that we will take all of your information under advisement and for further discussion, so I appreciate you all coming tonight. Board President Amanda Fiehweg @ 1:21:40 at 4/26/21 Meeting
Prior to citizen input, the District Administrator, Ed Brzinski, briefly summarized the revenue shortfall for the next school year. The discussion mostly centered around the worst-case budget scenario and hopes that the Wisconsin legislature will increase revenue in the next months for the 2021-22 school year. There were no supporting handouts, links, or uploads on the BoardDocs portal.
For those that are not aware, the majority of the shortfall in revenue for the next school year is due to the decreased student enrollment experienced this school year. Keep in mind that overall the WGSD enrollment is on an upward trend and new homes are being built at a record pace. This year’s decrease in enrollment is the result of the “once in a 100-year” COVID-19 pandemic. The WGSD District lost a significant number of student enrollments when some parents chose to homeschool their children. Other families chose to send their children to neighboring school districts or private schools where they felt the COVID safety measures were more compatible with what they wanted for their child.
So What’s Next?
The next public meeting is tonight at 6 PM at Fox River. You can view the agenda by clicking HERE. At this time, there still appears to be no publicly accessible information about the proposed budget cuts to the orchestra or other programs. From the enrollment data shown above, one can make assumptions about the number of sections and class size at each grade level and building. It remains a mystery why no information related to programs has been publicly discussed, or why supporting documentation that was shared with the school board has not been shared with the community at the WGSD school board meeting portal “BoardDocs”. The phrase “Budget Update” is listed as discussion item 3.02 at tonight’s Committee of the Whole meeting agenda for tonight’s meeting, but again there is no supporting documentation available. When one clicks on the budget item the only additional information is the following statement: “Update on budget planning for the 2021-2022 school year. “
We do not know which cuts were proposed by the administration to the school board, or what documentation they were given to make their decision. We remain hopeful that supporting information will be shared with the community at tonight’s public meeting and that individual board members will communicate with their constituents where they stand on these important issues. Again, such discussions are required by law to take place in public sessions. Of course, discussions related to personnel are protected and can be held in a closed session meeting, but they are to be separated from the larger discussions about program cuts and budget deliberations. A loose interpretation of Wisconsin’s open meeting laws does a disservice to the community that our board members are elected to serve.
Posted by Matt Kranich on 5/10/2021
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