More than 20 percent of teachers in a Walworth County school district will soon be out of jobs and an elementary school is set to close after residents in the Delavan-Darien district voted against a $3.5 million referendum.
Darien Elementary School teacher Karleigh Kramer-Britt had no idea the failed referendum meant she and around 40 other teachers would lose their jobs.
“My hope was to make the Delavan-Darien School District my forever job,” Kramer-Britt said.
On her last day in the classroom before going on maternity leave, she realized that hope wouldn’t become a reality.
“I’m very disappointed and sad,” said the fifth-grade teacher.
Instead of spending the next four months worry free with her newborn son, Kramer-Britt will be searching for a new job.
“There’s no words I can describe right now to say how sad I am that this has happened,” she said.
Chris Kotaska of Darien was against the measure that failed by around 500 votes on April 3.
“It sounded like they wanted a lot of money for improvements on the ball field,” he said.
The referendum would have cost homeowners $34 per month in property taxes for a $200,000 home.
Kotaska said he would have voted differently had he known its full implications.
“They didn’t put any emphasis on closing a school or all the people that are going to be out of work,” he said.
School District Superintendent Dr. Bob Crist said he didn’t know 39 teachers would get laid off until after the referendum failed.
“Some things surfaced after our business manager left in February and went to another district,” Crist said. “Then the replacement business manager that we hired discovered that the cuts were not commensurate with what the budget was.”
At the end of the school year, around 275 fourth and fifth graders at Darien Elementary will go to other schools in the district. Those schools were also impacted by the teacher cuts.
“The class sizes are going to be bigger than what they are,” said parent Becky Corning.
The school district will give the referendum another go this fall, hoping the losses convince voters to change their minds.
“I feel horrible,” Kotaska said. “This is my hometown and that’s my home school.”