HUSTISFORD — A day after Hustisford School District residents defeated an operational spending referendum, Hustisford School District Administrator Heather Cramer won’t allow herself to dwell on it.
“We heard from the community, ‘Are you going to close your doors?’” Cramer said. “No. We’re going to stay right here and keep moving. We’re going to continue doing great things for our students. That won’t change. That’s been our mission since day one. Am I disappointed? Yes, I am, but it’s only a bump in the road.”
But cuts are on the table.
Hustisford School District residents defeated the operational referendum 491 to 381 Tuesday during the state’s general election. That means 56% voted against it.
The question asked voters if the Hustisford School District should be allowed to exceed the revenue limit by $300,000 per year beginning with the 2021-22 school year and ending with the 2023-24 school year for nonrecurring purposes, such as maintaining current programs and educational opportunities and meeting current district expenses.
Hustisford Finance Services Director Jon Duhr said the Hustisford School District is suffering right now because of decreases in its enrollment.
“We’re facing a several $100,000 budget deficit this year and that includes the $200,000 operational referendum that we are in the last year of having,” he said. “We’re going forward with a lot of things that COVID-19 handed us. We’re already at a negative deficit with a current referendum and now it is scheduled to go away after this year and COVID-19 is not and those other expenses are not either. “
Hustisford School District Administrator Heather Cramer said the current referendum provided the district with $200,000 for the last three years, but it expires at the end of this school year.
“We used that referendum to increase technology within the district. We also hired an agriculture teacher and brought our agriculture program back,” she said.
Cramer said the referendum funds allowed the district to purchase new curriculum across all areas, including social studies, science, math and reading.
She said this past February the district cut an elementary school principal position, which will be held by Cramer next school year.
“The school board has some soul searching to do,” Cramer said. “I am not sure they’ll come back with a referendum this fall, but it could happen in spring of next year.”
She said the district also lost its food service director, but the district will examine how to meet the needs of its students, but in a different manner.
Duhr said the district will need to look at all areas of its budget to see where cuts can be made. He said those cuts could come in the form of staff, which would lead to increased class sizes. He said there could be cuts to educational offerings or co-curricular programs along with limited professional development opportunities and increased fees.
“Seventy-five percent of the budget is salaries and benefits,” he said. “We’re hoping and praying Gov. Tony Evers’ budget passes, which would provide us with more state aid.”