The most recent Watertown-Mayer school board meeting saw a couple quick items being presented to the board. The first was a change in Kids Company’s lunch vendor and schedule, as well as an update on the referendum plans.
Currently, the food for the lunches at Kids Company is supplied by Taher. The district went out to bid on a new company earlier in the year, and now a contract with Premier Kitchen is being proposed to the board. The lunches are only provided on school days at the moment, which is the main reason this is changing. Premier will be delivering lunches daily.
A few changes will be coming for Kids Company, mainly a food service worker to help prep everything and clean up afterwards. However, this service worker would be paid for fully by Kids Company, according to Lisa Raiter, finance director.
The reason Taher couldn’t do this was logistics, according to Raiter. They do not have a kitchen nearby to prepare the food, and to build a new one would be financially difficult. Premier is already providing food to other preschool-aged care centers in the area, so they have this availability.
Raiter also added that if the new contact does not work out, it’s only a year contract so they could always go to bid again in June of 2020, or extend the contract if everything goes well.
With all this in mind, the board approved of the new contract with Premier, so Kids Company students will be getting lunch, even when school is not in session.
As for the referendum, since the last meeting there have been more meetings with facilities and the financial committees for Watertown-Mayer. The finance committee followed up after the workshop on May 6, and according to Stacy Unowsky, board chair. The committee examined new models as well as kept track of the legislature’s actions, as there were a few school-related items on their agenda.
Though the legislature has passed adding more to the education fund, this doesn’t exactly help with the shortfalls according to Ron Wilke, superintendent, because the models created by the board and committees already accounted for the possible education fund increase.
“I wouldn’t want to give anyone the impression that suddenly it’s all good,” he said. “It’s not.”
If the board were to pass a $350 increase on revenue per student, for example (not relating to the amount in taxes, just revenue), they would still have to make over $800,000 in budget cuts over the next three years according to Wilke. If nothing happens, that amount almost doubles to $1.5 million.
“When we’re getting into the $1.5 million range, programs will be reduced, and class sizes will increase,” he said.
The facilities committee has also met regarding the bond levy. According to Kelly Thaemert, clerk, the committee supports going to the ballot, but wants to work out the most important projects before doing so. Structure of the ballot questions as well as dollar amount are also being discussed. A tiered vote has been suggested, meaning the bond would be contingent on a vote for the operating levy, according to Thaemert.
Communication with the community is still one of the most important ideals for the board regarding this matter while they continue to examine it more. Because these are both still in the planning stages, neither are confirmed to be on the ballot, but the hope is to finalize everything for the July board meeting. Throughout June, the board will continue to meet with the committees and examining the impacts of the possible referendum and levy.
“We’re looking at the right balancing the budget hole and honoring and supporting taxpayer interests as well,” said Wilke.