Just before Brainerd School Board members Monday approved another round of budget reductions, this time for seventh- through 12th-grades, they received a bit of good news from Superintendent Jerry Walseth.
Walseth said that after it was announced last month that a Brainerd woman, Annette Belfiori, donated $125 to the school district - the estimated amount of what her property taxes would have gone up if the referendum had passed last November - others have been inspired to give to the school district.
Walseth said another woman, Mary Larson, sent a check for $125. Both checks will be set aside and put into a fund for programs that are experiencing cuts.
Walseth said at a ninth-grade band concert led by band director Tom Frid, an anonymous person wrote a letter of appreciation for the music program and included three $100 bills to provide support for the music programs.
"Folks are finding ways to give of themselves and of their resources and we appreciate that," said Walseth.
Those who wish to offer a solution to the district's financial crisis, either through a business sponsoring a program or by making a donation, are encouraged to contact Walseth or another school administrator. School Board members' e-mail addresses also are posted on the district's Web site, www.isd181.org.
In board action, the school board approved the sale of $4.275 million in aid anticipation certificates to Wells Fargo with the lowest interest rate of 1.4 percent. Kristin Hanson of Ehlers and Associates told the board that they haven't seen interest rates this low in a number of years. The six-month certificates act like a line of credit for the district when its monthly expenditures exceed its revenues, such as payroll expenses, school officials said. The board also officially called for the sale of refinancing of previous bonds, which could potentially save taxpayers as much as $500,000 spread out over nine years if interest rates are favorable, as anticipated.
The board passed a resolution affirming the sale of Franklin Arts Center to Artspace. School district attorney Tom Fitzpatrick said the sale of the building to Artspace will likely be finalized within the next few days.
The board approved the following certified staff resignations: Sally Boos, Forestview special education teacher; Gary Bradshaw, psychologist, Paul Bunyan Cooperative; Jan Costello, Forestview physical education teacher; Tom Diemert, Forestview science teacher; Bryce Eaton, BHS South math teacher; Linda Hamilton, school nurse, an extended leave of absence for three years leading to retirement; Sandra Janssen, BHS family consumer science teacher; Jenny Johnson, instructor for the physically impaired, Paul Bunyan Cooperative; Alison (Ohe) Tertin, now on leave; Linda Palmer, Garfield first-grade teacher; Robyn Schaefer, BHS language arts teacher; and Bruce Thompson, BHS physical education teacher. They also accepted the administrative resignation of Bonnie Kriha, special education coordinator, employed through the Paul Bunyan Cooperative.
The board accepted the recommended seventh- through 12th-grade budget reductions, including the reduction of 12.9 full-time-equivalent teachers and one secretary in grades seven and eight, a total of $658,841. The ninth- through 12th-grade reductions included the elimination of 16.8 FTE teachers, two secretaries, two educational assistants and a reduction in the Career Center staff contract for a total of $1,116,000.
Brainerd parent Claire Rud asked that the board consider letting the children of elementary teachers attend their parents' schools. Rud, a volunteer at Riverside School for 11 years, said the children help in their parents' classrooms and look over the other children waiting to be picked up after school. She said it would cost the district nothing to give this benefit to teachers and would enable them to not have to scramble to another building to pick their children up after school. Board member Ruth Nelson asked that the issue be placed on the agenda for the next personnel committee meeting.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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