Howard-Winn Schools trimming $1.5 million from budget - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Howard-Winn Schools trimming $1.5 million from budget

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RIDGEWAY (KWWL) -- The Howard-Winneshiek School District needs to trim $1.5 million from its 2010-2011 budget. Monday night, the school board is listened to public comments, and made a decision to move to a multi-grade learning environment.  This means the elementary buildings will all stay open, but many teachers will be cut.

Parents like the Bronners are concerned about possible cost-cutting options. They moved their family to Ridgeway last summer. Their oldest, Marissa, just started Kindergarten, and her younger brothers are not far behind. But where their school bus takes them, may change Monday night.

"It's very scary, we're very concerned. We had a lot of talks and sleepless nights worrying about this," said Paul and Rhonda Bronner.

The school board is looking at six options for cutting its budget, and none of them are easy.

"If you just look at it strictly as a business decision, it looks at it one way. But there's humans involved, there's people involved. There's kids potentially going to different school buildings, there's teachers potentially being laid off," said Superintendent Brian Fey.

One budget-cutting option is for the district to move to a multi-grade learning environment. Meaning, some teachers would have larger classes, with more than one grade. Fey said the classes would still be manageable - about twenty-five kids in a room.

The one which brings them closest to trimming $1.5 million calls for the district to close two elementary schools - including Ridgeway. This is heartbreaking for the Bronners. They moved to the small town specifically for the elementary school program.

"Anybody that you asked, anybody that we asked about Ridgeway, it was just such a positive response... and that's why we left the town of Cresco and came out here," said Rhonda Bronner.

The Bronners are planning to send their daughter to Decorah if the board closes Ridgeway, and Fey is concerned other parents will do the same. But he hopes they'll realize the board is trying to make the best decision for the kids future.

"I think people understand that we need to make the cuts, but I'm sure every one of them would rather have it affect someone else," Fey added.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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