Despite funding cuts, Onalaska schools increase staff - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Despite funding cuts, Onalaska schools increase staff

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ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- Despite cuts to K-12 education funding over the past few years, the Onalaska School District is still slightly increasing the number of full time employees each year.

According to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Onalaska increased over the last few years with 347.24 full-time equivalent positions in 2011 to 369.11 in 2013.

That's unlike most districts in the state that have had to cut employees. For example the La Crosse School District had to cut full-time equivalent positions during that same time period, going from 895.46 in 2011 to 862.82 in 2013.

The Onalaska district's director of finance, Larry Dalton, says their able to hire new staff despite budget cuts because of how they prioritize. He says staff pay more in to retirement funds and they changed the healthcare plan. They also don't spend as much on projects like paving parking lots.

Dalton also says a big boost came from a $4.2 million referendum the community approved in 2011.

 "Overwriting the whole thing is the referendum," Dalton said. "We had a three year operating referendum that increased 300,000 each year, so that's made a huge difference...In the first place, we would of had to have cut 1.1 million dollars had that not passed. So that really ensured our survival."

Dalton says the trend will continue and they will add more full time staff next year.

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