Weather Forecast


River Falls school officials try to sway education spending debate

As the River Falls School District works on its own budget, one is being proposed for Wisconsin that includes how much schools can spend for the 2013-14 year.

Gov. Scott Walker proposes to cap school spending at the current level but allow for some incentive payments for high-performing districts.

River Falls school board members last week criticized the governor's zero-percent spending lid. Superintendent Tom Westerhaus gave his perspective about what lies ahead.

"The governor has presented his proposal, but that doesn't mean the Senate and Assembly will fully accept it," Westerhaus said Monday, Feb. 25. "We have scheduled state Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) to come to our March 11 Business Affairs Committee meeting so that she can better understand the impact of a zero-increase budget on River Falls."

At zero percent, the school district would be about $400,000 in the red for the 2013-14 school year. What would that mean?

"The school board will need to decide if the deficit is made up by eliminating any projected compensation increases, making budget reductions, or a combination of both," Westerhaus said. "No decision has been made as of yet."

School board President Stacy Johnson Myers said a $400,000-plus deficit is serious and would be a "challenge for the district."

"This potential deficit comes after a series of deep cuts for our district," she said.

The school board's 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 11, Business Affairs Committee meeting -- with a 6:30 p.m. appearance by Harsdorf -- will be held in the district's central office, 852 E. Division St. Anyone may attend.

Dean Knudson, 30th District Assemblyman from Hudson, and John Murtha, 29th District Assemblyman from Baldwin, both Republicans, are also invited to appear at the meeting.