The high school farm will be closed, all world languages except Spanish will be eliminated, many electives will be gone and class sizes will expand to an average of 35 to 38 students in each classroom.
This may be the new reality at Brainerd High School and BHS South next fall, Brainerd Assistant Superintendent Steve Razidlo told the approximately 150 parents and school staff members who attended Monday's high school listening session. Parents were then divided into small groups and asked to give feedback on the proposed reductions.
Razidlo gave a presentation on the $1.1 million in proposed administrative recommendations for grade 9-12 students as part of the $5.5 million in overall budget reductions required by next fall. The School Board Curriculum Committee will make a recommendation on 7-12th-grade reductions at the Feb. 7 committee meeting and the school board will act on those recommendations at its Feb. 11 meeting.
Razidlo said there have already been 18 full-time positions cut at BHS and BHS South since 2003 as part of ongoing budget reductions.
George Tetreault, director of the Minnesota Learning Center, requested comments from his small group while Laurie Wig, Forestview science teacher, took notes for school board consideration at a Brainerd High School listening meeting Monday night. In the background, assistant superintendent Steve Razidlo clarified some issues on class sizes for the group.
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The administrative recommendation for ninth-12th-grade reductions include the following:
- Eliminate two educational assistant positions.
- Eliminate two secretarial positions.
- Reduce time in five secretarial positions.
- Eliminate school-sponsored field trips and calculator hardship subsidies.
- Close the Brainerd Community Ag Center (formerly known as the BHS School Farm).
- Eliminate 16.8 full-time-equivalent teaching positions, 7.2 FTE in core classes and 9.6 in elective courses.
These eliminated teaching positions broken down by subject include a full-time French, full-time German and .6 FTE American Sign Language teachers.
Other teaching positions eliminated include 1.6 FTE visual arts teaching positions (.6 FTE at BHS South Campus and 1 FTE at BHS), a full-time physical education teacher; a .4 FTE family and consumer science teaching position; a full-time agriculture position (.4 FTE at BHS South and .6 FTE at BHS); a full-time automotive services position; a full-time business and marketing position; a full-time industrial technology; two full-time English instructors, one at BHS and one at BHS South; 2.4 FTE social studies teachers, one at BHS South and 1.4 FTE at BHS; 1.4 FTE mathematics instructors, one at BHS South and .4 at BHS); and 1.4 FTE science teachers (one at BHS South and .4 FTE at BHS).
Razidlo said as a result of these proposed teaching reductions, there will be one instead of two agriculture teachers next fall and the remaining instructor will teach courses at BHS South after the Ag Center is closed. It also will mean that automotive services, building trades and business and technology courses would no longer be offered at BHS. There also would be fewer visual arts, agriculture, physical education, family and consumer science, industrial technology and other core and elective courses.
Razidlo said with the reduced positions and programming, the recommendation includes reducing the current BHS graduation requirement from a minimum of 44 credits to 43 credits, which is the state minimum. The high school would eliminate its graduation requirement of a career/tech ed course credit and will reduce the physical education/health requirement for the Class of 2009, previously planned for 2010, from three to two credits. Razidlo said because of budget cuts the high school will have lost three physical education/health teaching positions in the past two years.
Staff reductions also will limit the ability of the district to provide other specialized courses, such as Early Bird courses that begin at 7 a.m., B-level and concepts courses for struggling learners and advanced placement courses that allow more rigorous study where students may earn college credit. Other courses that would be limited include the Project Lead the Way pre-engineering courses for 7-12th-graders and Bridges Career Academy, a new partnership designed to allow high school students earn college credit at Central Lakes College while taking the courses at BHS. Razidlo said class sizes must be greater than 30 students in order for the district to offer those courses.
Razidlo said ninth-grade teams at BHS South would no longer exist as they do now and there would be less support for struggling learners throughout ninth-12th-grades. There also would be less office support at both BHS South and BHS that would cause delays in service. Patience and understanding from students, parents and remaining staff would be needed if these cuts are approved and implemented next fall.
To recap, the total recommended district staff reductions for the 2008-09 school year so far are 78 FTE positions:
- Grades K-4: 22 teaching positions, 12 educational assistants
- Grades 5-8: 22.2 teaching positions, one secretarial position
- Grades 9-12: 16.8 teaching positions, two secretarial positions and two educational assistants.
This total does not reflect reductions in administrative and custodial positions that will be announced later. Razidlo said there will be at least 10-15 more positions cut in the district during this round of budget cuts, bringing the total of positions eliminated in the school district since 2003 to about 150 positions.
The school district has about 950 employees.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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