The Madison School District and others across the state are scrambling to issue preliminary layoff notices to teachers by Monday due to confusion over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill and the delay of the state budget.
Madison may issue hundreds of preliminary layoff notices to teachers Monday if an agreement with its union can’t be reached to extend a state deadline, school officials said Thursday.
The School Board plans to meet at 7 a.m. Friday in closed session to discuss the matter.
The Wisconsin Association of School Boards this week urged local school officials to decide on staff cuts by Monday or risk having potential layoffs challenged later in court.
“It’s hugely important and hugely upsetting to everyone,” said Craig Bender, superintendent of the Sauk Prairie School District, which will issue preliminary notices to 63 of its roughly 220 teachers. “It has a huge effect on how schools can function and how well we can continue to educate all kids.”
Bender said the preliminary notices reflected “a guess” about the number of teachers who could lose their jobs because the state budget has not been released.
The first tremors of what could be coming when Gov. Scott Walker releases his 2011-’13 budget proposal next week are rippling through Wisconsin school districts, where officials are preparing for the worst possibilities and girding for fiscal fallouts.
“I’m completely nervous,” Cudahy School District Superintendent Jim Heiden said. “Walking into buildings and seeing teachers break into tears when they see you – I mean, that’s the level of anxiety that’s out there.”
For the past two weeks, protests in Madison have been the focus of a nation, as angry public-sector workers have descended on the Capitol to try to stop Walker’s proposal to roll back most of their collective bargaining rights, leaving them with the ability to negotiate only limited wage increases.
Next week, the demonstrations could move to many of the state’s 425 school districts, the first local entities that will have to hash out budgets for a fiscal year that starts July 1.
Gov. Scott Walker’s secrecy and rhetoric regarding his budget plans are fueling rumors and anxiety as well as a flurry of preliminary teacher layoff notices in school districts around the state.
In Dane County, the Belleville school board voted to send layoff notices to 19 staff members at a meeting on Monday. Both the Madison and Middleton Boards of Education will meet Friday to determine their options and if they will also need to send out layoff notices, given the dire predictions of the governor’s budget which will be announced March 1.
In Madison, hundreds of teachers could receive layoff notices, district officials confirmed. Superintendent Daniel Nerad called it an option that would provide “maximum flexibility under the worst case scenario” in an e-mail sent to board members Thursday evening.
Most districts are bracing, and planning, for that worst case scenario.