The Winona School District held a public budget hearing Monday night after announcing that $1.5 million needed to be cut from the 2017-2018 budget. Despite passing two referendums in the fall, the district says these cuts need to happen to keep enough money in the budget to deal with unexpected expenses.
Over 200 ideas were submitted by community members on how to reduce the budget. Some of the more controversial ideas were related to closing Madison and/or Rollingstone Elementary for coming school year and making significant cuts to music and athletic activities. Interim superintendent Kelly Halvorsen said it's too early to say whether programs would be completely eliminated, but all areas will have to take a hard look at their budgets.
"These decisions are very hard and we don't take it lightly," said Halvorsen. "We do a lot of studying, we do a lot of data mining, and in the end we're all here for kids and we want to keep those cuts as far away from the kids that we can."
After a March 30th meeting at which school administrators will submit their own ideas, the school board will make a decision on these reductions April 6th.