The Milaca School District placed nine teachers on a leave of absence as part of larger budget cuts across the district.

The teachers were placed on an unrequested leave of absence by the Milaca School Board May 17. The leave is effective starting June 30, the end of the school year.

Milaca Schools cited financial limitations as the reason for cutting the teachers. The move is part of the district’s right-sizing efforts in light of falling attendance and a shrinking fund balance.

The cuts include special education teacher Rosemary Nelson, fifth-grade teacher Cassandra Wredberg, kindergarten teachers Rebecca Barland and Rebecca Wuensch, first-grade teacher Cassandra Smith, sixth-grade teacher Karleen Black, second-grade teacher Jacqulyn Barland, preschool teacher Emily Gaspers and elementary school teacher Michelle Janson.

These reductions were announced in March, but due to contract requirements needed to come before the board a second time. The reductions are based on seniority and do not necessarily mean those grades levels or departments will see a reduction in staff, according to Superintendent David Wedin.

Staffing cuts come amidst over $1 million in budget cuts the district is doing to avoid Statutory Operating Debt — when the state takes an active role in overseeing the district’s finances.

To avoid Statutory Operating Debt the district must keep its operating debt below 2.5% of its expenditures, according to state statute.

Superintendent David Wedin explained in a column printed by the Union-Times in March that the school district is reducing staffing and programming after six years of declining enrollment and the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cuts are classified in three categories. Right-sizing is adjusting staffing levels to meet enrollment. Reductions are cuts to specific programs and reprogramming are cuts that cause significant changes to existing programs, according to Wedin.

Two other teachers also were cut from the district, but for different reasons. Elementary special education teacher Stacy Yatckoske was placed on a leave of absence due to an expiring license. Elementary music teacher Sherry Lawson, who is a probationary teacher, had her contract terminated.

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