Social worker position removed from proposed reduction list
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — In the Oct. 12 meeting of the Marshfield School Board, board members approved the striking of one social worker position from the proposed list of reductions for if the Nov. 8 school referendum does not pass.
The proposed reductions addressed in the list correlate with the anticipated budget deficit for the 2017-2018 school year, which would occur when the current $2.5 million per year referendum expires and in the event that the Nov. 8 $3 million per year referendum is not passed by Marshfield voters.
The public was presented with several opportunities to provide feedback to school board members in the past weeks. Proposed cut items receiving feedback included the library media coordinator, the gifted and talented program, as well as positions regarding the mental and emotional health of the students.
“With the changes in state mandates and funding, … the district gradually started cutting school counselor positions starting at the elementary level,” said Lisa Goeppinger, elementary social worker for Lincoln and Washington Schools, in one listening session. “Since I’ve been here, the counselor/social worker/AODA staff has gone from 11.5 FTE (full-time employees) to seven FTE, almost a 40 percent reduction.
“Even with these drastic cuts, there have not been cuts or changes in our job descriptions or our responsibilities. In fact quite the opposite has happened. There are many more programs, requirements, and expectations.”
On behalf of the Finance Committee, board member Amber Leifheit brought an adjusted list back to the table at the Oct. 12 meeting.
“We agonized over this list, everyone in the room,” said Leifheit. “It makes me sick to my stomach to think about losing any of these things. Everything on this list is important, but we reached a consensus and voted that we would move this list forward with one exception: … that we would take that one school social worker off the list and leave the rest on there.
“Just so everyone is clear, these items will be taken out of the budget. They will be gone unless the referendum passes. Hopefully, there will be good news Nov. 8, and we can move those back on.”
“There is no other choice but to pass the referendum, or we will be hemorrhaging as a district,” said board member Dorothy Chaney. “I just wanted to point out the fact that we came to the consensus tonight not because of the number of people that came forward to advocate for the social worker position. At the end of the day, sometimes I think the board just gets some decisions, and we recognize that our most vulnerable students need to be protected.”
A motion was made to accept the revised reduction list, which was passed in a 6-0 vote. Board member Mark Konrardy was absent.
The approved list is available at marshfieldschools.org/cms/lib010/WI01919828/Centricity/Domain/105/List%20of%20Reductions%20201718%20with%20Descriptions%20FINAL.pdf.
Marshfield voters will go to the polls on Nov. 8 to decide if the referendum passes or if the reduction list will have to be enacted because it does not pass.