Walworth Jt. School District #1 sent out a district-wide mailing yesterday that will arrive in mailboxes soon. The mailing included a letter from the district (text below) and information about an upcoming event on December 7, 2022. Please see the letter below:
November 28, 2022
My name is Phill Klamm and I am thankful to serve as the District Administrator at Walworth Jt. School District #1. I have been writing to you this school year to introduce myself, share some information about our school district, and invite you to our events. If you haven’t read the previous letters, please consider taking a few minutes to read them on our website: www.walworth.k12.wi.us or contact me and I will be happy to send them to you.
Since my last letter, I have had the opportunity to talk with those of you who came to our Community Information Night on November 3, 2022. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend. It was great to see community members, parents, and staff coming together to discuss our school! For those unable to attend, we talked about the financial outlook of the District and the timeline of the upcoming state budget.
For the 2023-2024 school year, the District is currently estimating a decrease in revenue of approximately $1,000,000. Over the last 4 years, Walworth’s state aid has decreased by over $700,000 and local taxes have decreased by approximately $75,000. In order to offset the decreases in revenue and balance our budget in prior years, we have reduced a total of ten full time and three part time teachers, and reduced eight full time aides to nine part time aides (some working as little as three hours per day).
The estimated decrease in revenue is coming at a time when inflation is hitting District expenses hard. Some notable items that have increased dramatically in price over the last 4 years are: copy paper (60% increase), toilet paper (65% increase), gas for heating (80% increase), and property insurance (90% increase). During the past eight years, we have worked hard to keep costs down while staying true to our mission of Providing the Best Education for All Students.
The reduction in revenue that the District is expecting is exacerbated by the timing of the upcoming state budget. The fiscal year for Wisconsin schools runs from July 1st to June 30th. However, every two years school districts around the state must wait until the state passes its biennial budget before finalizing their budgets. The challenge is that the last two state budgets have been passed after July 1st, meaning that school districts must start the new fiscal year without knowing what their final state aid is going to be.
Many School districts across the state are also anticipating significant funding shortages. When faced with funding shortages, a district has two main options, either cut expenses or ask for an operational referendum. Over 80% of school districts in Wisconsin have already pursued at least one operational referendum to cover funding shortages, including the districts of Big Foot Union High School, Clinton, Delavan-Darien, Elkhorn, Fontana, Genoa City, Lake Geneva, Reek, Whitewater, and Williams Bay. Walworth Jt. School District #1 has never asked the community to pass an operational referendum.
The largest expense for most school districts is staff pay and benefits. For Walworth, that percentage is approximately 80% of the budget (when adjusted for open enrollment expenses). If a district needs to reduce a teacher, state statutes require that the district deliver preliminary notice of nonrenewal to that teacher by April 30 and a final notice of nonrenewal by May 15, which is at least six weeks ahead of when the district will even know what the state budget is.
If a school district wants to ask its community to approve an operational referendum for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, the only available election date is April 4, 2023, and the school district is required by state statute to pass a final resolution for the referendum question on or before January 24, 2023.
Walworth Jt. School District #1 is hosting a second Community Information Night on Wednesday, December 7, 2022. Community members are asked to attend to hear more about the upcoming financial constraints and discuss the options the District is considering.
As we strive for continuous improvement and live out our theme of “Better Together”, it is time for me to ask you for help. We know that we are a great school now and with your help we can be even better!
The first request I would like to ask of you is to consider communicating with me your questions and concerns. Please reach out to me by phone (262) 394-2010 (my direct number) or by email: Phill.Klamm@walworth.k12.wi.us to set up a meeting or to share with me your questions and concerns so that I can use that information to help guide our district.
The next request I would like to ask of you is to attend our Community Information Night in our Multipurpose Room on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 6:00 p.m.
The third request is that you would please read the enclosed newsletter, “The Growler”, and read the information we send to you over the next few months. We know that not everyone is able to get information online, so we are increasing our in person and mail efforts. Our communication with you is important to us and we hope that you find value in it!
Finally, if you are online and would like to connect with us there, please like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/walworthj1), follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/Walworth_J1), connect with us on Instagram (WalworthJ1), and visit our website (www.walworth.k12.wi.us).
I am very proud of our school district’s rich history and excited for its promising future. Thank you for allowing me to serve this district and our community. It is my hope that this, and future communication, will help us be Better Together as we strive to Provide the Best Education For All Students!
Phill Klamm, District Administrator