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10-21-04 Bremen school officials prepare parents for cuts

By Janie Southard

  NEW BREMEN -- Some New Bremen parents are thinking the round of cuts the board of education will have to make if the 1 percent income tax levy fails in November wouldn't be so bad.

  Board Vice President Mark Barhorst, emcee at Wednesday night's community levy meeting, said he'd heard some parents believe the fee for pay to play would be less than the cost to pay the income tax.
  Not so, says Barhorst referring to charts in a Power Point presentation to the audience of more than 100.
  "A family of four making $60,000 a year will pay $550 (for the tax levy) per year. However, if they have a couple football players in the family, the pay-to-play will cost over $1,000," Barhorst said.
  President Norm Holcomb emphasized later in the meeting that pay-to-play is not the only kind of cut the board will have to make.  "We aren't just talking about athletics. Cutting teachers and subjects would mean deep academic cuts," Holcomb said.
  Instituting open enrollment was another topic residents brought up for discussion.
  If the state is funding about $5,000 per student and New Bremen enrollment is down, why not go to open enrollment like some other area schools have done?
  District Treasurer Deb Meyer explained that open enrollment was first discussed by the board about seven years ago. It was determined then that the issue brought a number of problems.
  "There are issues of discrimination. If several special education students came to us through open enrollment, that would require more money for their education. Then, if a family had a kid already enrolled through open enrollment and they wanted their younger kid to come here too, but we had no spots open. That wouldn't be a good situation," she said.
  After several more residents expressed interest in the school going to open enrollment, several board members said they would not object to hearing more about the topic at a later meeting.
  One audience member pointed out this levy would only help the school's coffers for a while.
  "Yes, it's only a short-term fix. We hope it lasts us the five years, but it the economy goes south, it's not going to cover us," Meyer said.
  Residents will determine the fate of the 1 percent, five-year income tax levy at the polls on Nov. 2.
  The levy is expected to generate $872,000 annually for the school district. Should the levy fail, school officials have said the district faces a $42,000 deficit by June 2006 and a deficit of $1.4 million by June 2007.


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