Board hears positive feedback on high school ‘Challenge Days’

by Steve Ottman Review Correspondent

HOWARDS GROVE—Howard Grove High School recently observed “Challenge Days” which involved the support of 46 businesses with the theme of “Be Changed.”

High School Principal Scott Fritz felt that there was a lot of positive feedback from the students and staff members.

Many of the students relayed their stories on how “Challenge Days” affected them to the School Board at their February meeting.

It opened their eyes and brought people together, they said. Howards Grove is a small community and participants found that a lot of students have the same problems.

Students and staff members went out of their way to talk to or eat lunch or even share a high five in the hallway with each other.

Everyone in the high school got to know each other better and it helped them to be open-minded to get through their struggles.

All of the students hoped that “Challenge Days” could happen again next year.

Superintendent Chris Peterson gave outline of the 2014-2015 budget projections. He stated that with less state aid it was the right time to plan ahead.

Peterson reported the current budget cap for 2013-2014 is $8.63 million and then gave two projected budget cap scenarios for 2014-2015.

Plan 1 included a projected decrease of 23 students and all exemptions, which projected to be $8.43 million. Plan 2 included a zero decrease of students and all exemptions, which was projected at $8.37 million. Increased enrollment would also lower the budget cap.

Peterson said that the totals could show a budget shortfall between $190,817 to $251,212.

Two exemptions could also be used, a hold-harmless exemption and a declining enrollment exemption. Both exemptions would allow the school make up for the loss of revenue.

Peterson also mentioned two other cost factors that could drive up the potential budget shortfall, which could include increases in salaries and insurance increases.

These potential increases and the fact that the school has received less funding in the recent years adds up to a shortfall of $290,817 to $351,212.

Peterson examined how this happened.

On the positive side he felt that the school has been incredibly fiscally responsible. The fund balance remains strong and staff reductions are made when necessary.

On the negative side, there are fewer retirements, the state continues to reduce funding and open enrollment continues to pull away more students from potentially coming to the Howards Grove School District.

Approximately 93 percent of the district revenue comes from the revenue cap. Grants, fees, open enrollment additions and categorical aid would help the school district in monies received.

Peterson closed by reviewing reductions that the school has made in the past year such as watching energy efficiencies, staff reductions according to enrollment projections, reduced cleaning times, reduced building budgets and reduced insurance premiums by increasing deductibles.

A preliminary review of enrollment for the three schools was given by each principal. It is estimated that the enrollment could decrease by 23 students with a smaller incoming class at the kindergarten level and larger senior graduating class.

The open enrollment process has already started for the Howards Grove School District. Post cards have been sent out to northern Sheboygan County residents and rural Cleveland residents.

Families interested in enrolling their students at Howards Grove are invited to attend an open house Monday, April 7.

The board members appointed Elise Waltz as an advisory board member.

Board President Mark DeAmico thanked the PTO and Millersville Recreation Association for donations. Private contributors Tom and Deb Heier and Terry and Denise Schaller donated money for softball and girls soccer programs.

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