PINE RIVER - The Pine River-Backus School District operating and bond referendums were voted down by district residents Nov. 8, which translates into significant budget and program cuts for the next two years.
The school board Monday directed school administrators to create a list of potential budget and program cuts and bring those suggestions back to the board at its Dec. 19 board meeting. The board then will be forced to trim anywhere from $377,000 to $500,000 from the district's 2006-07 budget. Board members may decide to cut the larger amount from the budget in order to soften the $1.1 million in projected cuts that would be necessary to balance the 2007-08 budget if only $377,000 were cut from next year's budget.
District staff members are now compiling a cost analysis of how much it would save to close Backus Elementary School, combine the elementary program at Pine River and reduce its high school programs.
Other potential reductions could include larger class sizes, eliminating transportation to students living close to school and cutting specific sports and community education programs, particularly those that are not cost-effective or have low participation rates.
Pine River-Backus Superintendent Cathy Bettino provided the board with a proposed timeline on when these decisions would be made and when cuts would be announced and voted on by the board.
Bettino said district staff members were notified via e-mail the day after the referendums failed that the process for budget reductions would begin and that administrators were open to suggestions.
Staff leadership teams last week discussed budget reductions and Tuesday the core administrative team intended to meet to discuss potential cuts, presenting those proposals to the finance committee at its Nov. 28 meeting. The full administrative team will meet Dec. 6 and will make its final recommendations to the finance committee, which will meet Dec. 13.
At the school board's next meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. Dec. 19 at the high school media center, the board likely will announce its 2006 reductions, said Bettino.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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