Not replacing seven teaching positions in the Brainerd School District could be one way the district will deal with $2.9 million in cuts for the 2004-05 school year.
The district's Finance and Insurance Committee heard a proposal Wednesday from Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth, Assistant Superintendent Gary Phillips and Business Manager Steve Dickinson on how the district will face reductions next school year.
"Our goal is to not put anyone out of work," Phillips said. "We tell our staff we are in better shape than 95 percent of the school districts in the state."
Phillips said not replacing the seven positions, which are either vacant or open because of retirements, will save the district around $400,000. Seven secondary teachers and 10 elementary school teachers submitted their retirement letters to the school district for next school year so far.
Walseth said he has no specifics on what positions will not be filled and how they will adjust staff and programs. The administration is still working out the details and will have the specifics at a later Finance Committee meeting.
Other reduction proposals include program adjustments and school supplies and equipment purchases. The district also is proposing to increase its activity fees and to spend down a majority of its reserves in the 2004-05 school year to help with the cuts.
The projected $2.9 million in reductions could increase, said Dickinson. The district has to settle contracts with the educational assistants and secretarial/clerical, custodial, interpreters and food service employees in the 2004-05 school year.
The administrators said if the state does not increase the general education revenue formula adequately for the 2005-06 school year and beyond the district will have to make about $3 million in cuts each year to keep a balanced budget or it would have to attempt an operating referendum.
"By the 2005-06 school year all of the one-time cuts will have been used up and our fund balance may be too low to meet cash flow needs," said Walseth. "Almost all cuts will then need to be made by reducing staff."
The district made $750,000 in reductions this school year.
Walseth added at the end of the committee meeting that the district cannot use any of its building bond money to help with the reductions. It is a state mandate that building bond revenue can only be used for building projects or additions.
In other committee business, the committee:
Heard from Donna Whalen, Washington Middle School principal, and Carol Munns, Mississippi Horizons principal, that students at Washington and Mississippi Horizons will move to Forestview Middle School when it opens in January 2005. The fifth-graders at the elementary schools will not move into Forestview until the fall of the 2005-06 school year.
Planned to recommend that the school board approve a fiber bid to Contel for $1,153,830. The fiber optics will be installed underground and will connect all the schools in the district. The technology infrastructure will increase communication between the students, the parents and the school.
The district also has a partnership with the public sector. The public sector has the option to connect to the district's fiber optics and it would pay a share of the cost.
Steve Augustinack, Brainerd media technology director, said since the schools in the district are spread throughout Brainerd it was logical for the district to be the technology backbone.
Planned to recommend that the school board form a Forestview Middle School Forest Management Committee. The committee would provide recommendations to the school board on appropriate practices that enhance natural resources, educational opportunities and community utilization of the site through a preliminary natural resources management plan.
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