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Board approves $14.7M budget

Library aide hours cut; assistant principal at Glen Hills added

Aug. 23, 2007

The Glendale-River Hills School Board last week approved a $14.7 million budget for the coming school year that is 1.57 percent higher than last year's spending plan.

The budget calls for a 4.93 percent hike in the property tax levy, which will be about $10.29 million, to support a budget of about $14.73 million.

The property tax rate for the elementary district might not go up 4.93 percent, however, depending on new construction that increases the tax base. About 40 percent of the $483,654 levy increase is due to a reduction of nearly $195,000 in state aid.

Larry Smalley, district administrator/Glen Hills Middle School principal, said although state legislators are fond of saying the state pays two-thirds of the cost of public education in Wisconsin, in Glendale, it is about 12 percent.

State aid dropping

But even at that, state aid is critical, and it has been dropping, said James Kennedy, business administrator. The district received $1.5 million in the 2000-01 school year, compared with $750,000 the next year, he said.

The School Board again heard a plea not to cut aide hours in the Parkway Elementary School library from librarian Helaine Glass and from aide Judy Foley. They have said education would be harmed by not having a fully staffed library. In the past, the board had said the plan was to increase librarian time, and that research shows children learn more with professional contact.

But that is not happening.

"Last year you told us you were cutting an aide to increase professional time, but neither school has a full-time librarian and the aide is still cut," Glass said. "It's not good for either school."

Twenty years of research supports that having a fully staffed library promotes education, she said.

The aide position will be cut from 30 hours to 24.

"It will have a very negative impact on students as well as teachers," said Judy Foley, who has been the Parkway library aide for 18 years. "We are not talking about a high salary."

Foley said after the meeting that she was disappointed about the decreased aide hours in the approved budget.

"My heart is in that library at Parkway," she said.

Smalley said paying an aide for six more hours would not be a budget problem, but once the 30-hour threshold is hit, the district has to pay benefits.

"Then it becomes a $44,000 position," he said.

But he still intends to beef up professional librarian time.

"We weren't able to pull that off, but it is still a goal of mine," Smalley said.

But he said the reduction in aide time at Parkway is reasonable due to the fourth grade being shifted to Glen Hills Middle School.

New teachers; increased fees

The budget includes additional spending in other areas, including a new assistant principal position at Glen Hills to oversee the intermediate school serving fourth through sixth grades; two new full-time-equivalent teachers; restoring allied arts, which were reduced at Parkway last year; and increasing music instruction and foreign language offerings.

Many fees also will increase, and a computer fee will be added.

The district would have lost even more state aid if student enrollment had not stopped its slide and started to grow slightly, Kennedy said. Resident student enrollment is important because the district gets more state aid with higher enrollments and revenue caps are calculated based on enrollment, he said. Enrollment declined until the 2004-05 school year and has been growing slowly since then.

The 2007-08 spending plan does not use reserves, which stand at $2.4 million, or 20 percent of expenditures.

Jane Ford-Stewart can be reached at (262) 446-6607 or jford@cninow.com.

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