Board Member Calls on Union to Help School District

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

The district already has cut one point two million dollars from its budget. But the failure of a referendum question worth more than seven million dollars means more to come.

Madison voters cast their ballots. Now it's up the district to turn in its numbers.

Supt. Art Rainwater says, "as of today, there will be over 20."

Supt. Art Rainwater says more than 20 professional staff will face layoffs. Board members will lay off staff, such as teachers, social workers and others with the least seniority.

But the number of positions cut is closer to 120.

"The people who end up getting laid off are people where there were no positions for them to go into," Rainwater says.

Other employees will shift into different positions opened up through retirements. But one board member is calling on the union to help.

Ruth Robarts says, "we should be looking to the unions and our employees to talk about smaller increases for less layoffs."

John Matthews, a spokesperson for Madison Teachers Inc, says he appreciates a willingness by Robarts to consider other options but says wage increases cannot get any smaller.

The board meets tomorrow to authorize layoffs, with notices due next week.

School board president Carol Carstensen says, "we have an obligation to let people know and not to keep them in limbo."

"We did have an agreement with MTI to extend it a week due to the referendum 'cause we didn't want to be in the position to layoff and bring them back if referendum were to pass," Rainwater says.

But will the board go back for another referendum?

"Leopold is one we will have to go back on ... there aren't options," Carstensen says.

Robarts says any return to a referendum also should include another look at the budget.

"We'd have to show people we've evaluated programs for effectiveness and cost, and make changes there ... we have to reduce administration. Right now we have no plan for that," she says.

Any change in the date to notify staff of layoffs would require union approval.

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