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Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District School Board meets to discuss budget deficit

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 10:09 PM CST
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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - The Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District board met Tuesday night to discuss the district’s $1.6 million budget deficit for next school year.

Two weeks ago, the school district informed staff the budget deficit may put 24 jobs in jeopardy.

The school board is still in the process of going through the budget and looking for ways to recoup some of the deficit.

The main contributing factor to the school district’s loss of money is fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student enrollment in the district dropped 2.7%, with some opting to switch to all virtual schools and others moving out of the district to attend schools with in-person learning earlier in the pandemic.

Susan Kern with the district says the hope is to get some of those students back.

The Chippewa Falls School District is currently sending out a survey to see if enrollment numbers could possibly go back up next school year.

Superintendent Jeff Holmes and School Board President David Czech say making decisions on how to cut the budget is a hard and an emotional process.

“We now face budget adversity, once we come through the pandemic we will need to be prepared for multiple scenarios in front of us,” Holmes says. “We happen to be facing one of the most troublesome scenarios now and we need to be proactive in responding to it. If we do not, the likelihood of our situation becoming exacerbated or more difficult in years following 2021-22 is quite real.”

“Board members have been getting a lot of calls and obviously we’re kind of asked to tell them what we know and that’s essentially where we’re at right now,” Czech says. “We’ve been told we have this significant problem and right now the staff is struggling to put together something for us to look at that’s gonna solve that problem.”

The district will present a preliminary budget to the school board on March 23 and that draft will recommend which positions should be reduced or eliminated.

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