A financial crunch in the Cochrane-Fountain City School District is creating some drastic debate.
Earlier this month, voters in the Buffalo County District rejected a five year, $500,000 referendum.
Now the 700 student district is dealing with a major shortfall and budget cut crisis. One some feel is so intense, that the entire school system could be on the chopping block. Wednesday night there was a special session to discuss dissolving the district. In a spot that's made for plays and theater, there was some real drama that affects the entire district.
People who live in the Cochrane-Fountain City district got to speak out about a controversy on the table: dissolving the district.
A school board member brought up the disolution after the school referendum failed two to one. He stands by it even weeks later.
Barry Drazkowski says, "what we think of as C-FC is not what will be here in a few years."
The district had to make $750,000 in cuts this month, 15 staff members were affected, and next year another 1/2 million has to go. The superintendent thinks the district can stay afloat for years, but says the cuts will be drastic.
Steve Mieden says, "80% of our expense is personnel. That means it comes down to the people."
The people running the district are torn over the future. Board members debated, saying, "shutting the doors is not the answer."
"What do you think the answer is?"
"I think we have healthy debate and listen to people."
While the meeting was emotional it was purely discussion. The board can't make a move until a formal meeting but the member who brought it up thinks it will spark something, "we have to act now because we can pressure Madison."
Until then it's got the attention of the town and is yanking at its heartstrings and causing heartache.
"we've got great kids, great teachers and this stuff is tough to deal with," Mieder says. The board member who suggested dissolving the district said he'd like to start that process now, but challenged community members to petition for and to pass a referendum as soon as possible. The next board meeting is monday night.