March 31, 2017

President Trump’s current budget proposal includes financial cuts to education that will impact the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District.  According to the National Rural Education Association, the following actions are included in President Trump’s Education budget for 2018:

Ø  Elimination of Title II—NOW received $51,706 in 2016-17 to fund teacher salaries and benefits in the elementary school.

Ø  Elimination of 21st Century Learning Center Grant (after-school educational program)—NOW received $50,000 annually from the grant to help fund the $100,000 a year program.

Ø  Decrease in IDEA funds—IDEA is funded at $12.7 billion.  NOW uses IDEA funding to pay for instructional resources and CESA #4 instructional personnel and support for special education.  NOW receives $166,646 in IDEA funds.  There will be a decrease in funds, but at this point it is hard to determine the true amount.  (Federal commitment for IDEA is supposed to be at 40% funding levels.  At $12.7 billion, IDEA is at 16% federal funding level.) 

Ø  Decrease in Title VI(B) funds—NOW received $15,716 of Title VI(B) funds in 2016-17 through the federal Rural and Low Income School Program.  These funds were used to upgrade classroom instructional technology as well as purchase everything from elementary reading books to miscellaneous instructional materials.  It is unclear if this federal program will stay or be eliminated in President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal.

There will be a battle going on at the state level when it comes to funding public education as well.  Governor Walker’s proposals would help increase revenues for the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District at approximately $235,000 by the following proposals:

Ø  A $100 per student increase in Sparsity Aid, an estimated increase of $67,000.

Ø  Full funding of high cost transportation Aid, an estimated increase of $30,000.

Ø  A $200 per student increase in Per Student Categorical Aid, an n estimated increase of $135,000.

Declining enrollment could possibly reduce the NOW School District’s revenues by approximately $100,000 next year.  Therefore, these increases are welcome to the overall operation of the School District.

However, Republicans in the state legislature are not on board with Governor Walker’s public school funding increases.  It appears that the Joint Finance Committee may take funds the Governor put aside for education and put those monies in the Transportation Fund.  Overall, it will be a political battle spread out over the next four months. 

As a result of these two proposed but uncertain budgets, building a workable budget for 2017-18 will be very challenging.  With all the possible financial scenarios available for the 2017-18 school year, I will continue to do the best I can in providing quality educational programming for children while at the same time making an earnest effort to keep property taxes down.

At the April or May NOW Board of Education meeting, once again the NOW Board will have to vote on raising school lunch prices.  I just want to remind parents and the constituency that the school district is required to do this by federal law.  School Districts across the state are required to slowly increase school lunch prices in order for the cost of a regular school lunch to match the federal reimbursement amount for a free lunch.  Unless there are changes in the Healthy and Hunger Free Students legislation, this will continue to be the case.

Here are a few other updates on the overall operations of the NOW School District:

Ø  The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District had a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) administrative review of the child nutrition program.  The review was considered “excellent” by the DPI. 

Ø  The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School Board will determine the number of snow and ice make-up days at the end of the school year at the April 17 School Board Meeting.  Please make sure you check the Jr. & Sr. High and Elementary School Newsletters for that information.

Ø  The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District has just started state-mandated student testing.  Testing will go on for over a month.

Ø  Congratulations to our Elementary Principal Dr. Gayle Luebke.  She recently has been recognized by the Wisconsin Reading Association as the “Administrator of the Year.”  Dr. Luebke has stated that she is the recipient of the award due to a great Teaching and Support Staff.  So, great job Elementary School!!

Ø  The asphalt driveway from the right turn driving to the school parking lot all the way to the bus maintenance garage doors is deteriorating and falling apart.  The NOW School District is receiving bids to tear the driveway out and repave it this summer.

Ø  Classroom Driver’s Education will only be offered in the summer.  This summer a three-week class will be offered July 10-13, July 17-20, and 24-27, from 8:00 a.m. until 11:20 a.m.  The School District will provide transportation.  If you want your child to sign up for classroom Driver’s Education this summer, contact High School Principal Brad Pettit.

Ø  2017-18 Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Registration and Child Development Days are right around the corner.  Both will be held on Tuesday, April 18, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Elementary School Gymnasium.

Ø  There have been and are going to be a lot of activities coming up in the spring.  I want to recognize and congratulate all of the following activities for their outstanding job in area competitions and student performances: Forensics, Drama, FCCLA, FFA, Diversity Club, Band, Vocal Music, the Brookwood High School Annual, and Community Night.  A lot of time and effort goes into these activities, and I appreciate all the hard work of the advisors and the commitment of the students and parents in making them great experiences for our students.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the NOW School District, please contact me at (608) 337-4403 or