MADISON (WKOW) -- As the Madison Metropolitan School District looks to balance the budget, one proposed cut affects adult community programs.
The Madison School and Community Recreation program offers numerous adult programs, including adult sport leagues, water aerobics, even pottery.
Theodora Zehner heads to her adult fitness class through Madison School and Community Recreation every week: she's been in programs through MSCR for the past five years. Zehner says, "I come back year after year, session after session, because they do address the needs of seniors."
Usually, fees increase between 4-5 percent a year. One proposal to balance the Madison school district budget gap would increase adult fees at MSCR by 70-percent. School board leaders say that would cover the cost of administration and indirect over site to run the programs. They say currently, fees only cover the direct cost to operate the program or activity. That means classes that normally cost $137 dollars could go up to $232. Adult sport leagues costing $16 dollars would rise to $27.
Susan Clifford, also an MSCR participant, says, "I have some 80, 90 year olds in my classes, and for them, if they're on a limited income, it's going to be impossible for them."
School board members say they've cut $6-million dollars to elementary schools over the years and raised athletic fees hundreds of dollars. They want MSCR adult fees to cover the full amount it costs to run the programs.
Lucy Mathiak, Madison School Board Vice President, says, "If you look at what we've done with MSCR, their budget has grown while we were cutting budgets for staff and school and services. So it's time for MSCR to step up and help solve this problem we have."
Zehner responds by saying she feels the programs help seniors stay healthy, which leads them to be able to more actively volunteer and participate in the community. She says, "I've been paying taxes for years to educate children, and that's fine. But if you segregate one aspect of ageism from another that once again diminishes the quality of life for us all."
Mathiak adds, "We're trying to focus on job one for us, which is elementary, middle and high school education. That's our job. Recreation is nice if we can afford it, but that's an if."
It's just one of 200 proposals on the table to balance the school district's budget. Another proposal on the table would increase all fees, including children's, by 10-percent. Other major cuts proposed for the district: staff reductions or school closings. One plan would eliminate 250 positions in the school district for next school year.
There's a public hearing next Monday March 22 at the Villager Mall off of Park Street at 6 PM for the public to weigh in on proposed cuts.
A vote on the budget is expected the first week of May.