An operational referendum question will be on the April 2 ballot for people in the Portage School District. The motion passed on Monday by a unanimous decision of the Portage School Board during a regular meeting.

The non-recurring operational referendum is for utilizing up to $2.6 million each year, for the next three years beginning this fall. School officials said there will be no tax increase.

“There won’t be an increase because we’re doing all the budget reductions now, like closing two rurals, that will occur in the 2013 to 2014 school year,” said Margaret Rudolph, business administrator for the Portage School District.

The current $2.6 million operational referendum approved in 2010 will end on June 30, she said.

This year, residents paid $1,023 on a $100,000 home in district property taxes. If the referendum passes, the projected impact is $1,022 on a $100,000 home for the 2013-2014 school year; $1,020 on a $100,000 home the next year; and $1,023 on a $100,000 home the last year.

A projected deficit of $3.6 million in the 2013 to 2014 school year prompted several financial and structural changes that include: closing rural Caledonia Elementary School and Fort Winnebago Elementary School; closing River Crossing Environmental Charter School; all sixth-graders to attend Bartels Middle School; restructure the Portage High School staff; and restructure the middle school staff.

All the reductions add up to about $1 million, which when paired with the $2.6 million, would fill the deficit if it passes in April.

Caledonia Community Charter School

The recommendation by the Finance, Facilities and Transportation Committee was not to accept a contract proposal for the Caledonia Community Charter School.

District Administrator Charles Poches said that the administration had to make cuts and closures because it needed the savings for the district.

“The Caledonia Community Charter School would need at least $240,000, which would include additional layoffs (to fund it,)” he said.

The board unanimously voted no on the charter proposal. About 15 people in the audience left after the vote went through.

Employee Handbook

Since Act 10, collective bargaining is off the table between school boards and staff representatives. Therefore, a professional employee handbook was created to solidify expectations and retention of staff.

The final reading and approval of employee handbook took place, however, board members Fred Reckling and Mary Ann Kindschi voted no. The board went into closed session after the regular meeting in order to evaluate staff based on the criteria in the handbook. A special meeting of the Portage School Board on Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m., will officially address the staff who will not have contracts renewed due to budgetary issues. It is a public meeting, however, the board will go into closed session almost immediately.


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