I would like to address Mr. Cegielski’s ambiguous and misleading statements in The NOW regarding the Nicolet Referendum, in particular his stance that it is not necessary. I have been on the Nicolet School Board for the past 6 years and for each of those years I have been forced to make dramatic cuts in our budget.
These cuts were not the result of teacher contracts or overspending. They are because of a state funding formula that, rather than being designed to properly fund schools, was designed to underfund and force school districts to make annual cuts. The revenue caps put in place in 1993 have severely reduced the resources that school districts have available to them, and that is what determines just how deeply a school district must cut.
Prior to Governor Walker’s budget proposal, Nicolet High School was already facing an $800,000.00 shortfall for the 2010-2011 school year, and that amount compounds for each subsequent school year. As our enrollment declines, so does our revenue limit, and there is no hope in sight to resolving this punitive funding formula. That is why all but one of the Nicolet School Board Members voted to go to referendum.
With Governor Walker’s current budget proposal, Nicolet’s financial crisis has become most dire. The Governor’s budget proposal further reduces our allowable revenues by $825.00 per student, adding another whopping $900,000 to our budget deficit. Neither the bidding out of health insurance, nor the paying in to the pension fund, “tools” given to districts in the Budget Repair Bill, will compensate for these enormous cuts.
This reduction in allowable revenues is unprecedented--not even during the Great Depression were such cuts made to public education –and it will severely diminish the quality and value of education in our district. I can assure you that these unprecedented cuts in revenue to Nicolet will most definitely result in very deep cuts to our curriculum, which will only become deeper if the referendum fails to pass.
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