In light of the defeated school operating levy referendum Nov. 6, Crosby-Ironton School Board members are now facing tough decisions on how to cut $1 million from the district's $12 million budget by July 1.
School board members are inviting community members to a special brainstorming session from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday in the school district forum room to ask for their input on how to balance the budget.
C-I Superintendent Jamie Skjeveland said he and other school administrators are recommending that the school board take action on the necessary $1 million in budget reductions no later than the regular C-I school board meeting on Dec. 17. This will give school staff time to work out the details on how those cuts will be made and would allow time for any adjustments in those reductions.
This is an opportunity for the public to have a voice.
A similar brainstorming session took place after school Tuesday with more than 60 staff members, said Skjeveland. The participants broke out into small groups and discussed their ideas, which they reported back to school board members who wrote those suggestions on large pieces of paper and taped them up around the room. Those suggestions remain on the board room walls and a similar format for Monday's meeting is planned. Community members will be asked to check out those recommendations by school staff and come up with more ideas in small groups, reporting their results back to school board members.
"This is an opportunity for the public to have a voice," said Skjeveland.
District officials are considering the implementation of a four-day school week, eliminating all extracurricular activities, outsourcing support staff and eliminating several positions and programs. If these cuts, as projected, result in hundreds of students leaving the district, then a second phase of budget reductions would take place later this school year, which could include closing Cuyuna Range Elementary School. The district would then have a single K-12 building. One proposal is for high school social studies classes to increase to 50 students per class that would be taught lecture-style in the auditorium. The school board has discussed converting some of the high school building's five gymnasiums into classrooms.
According to the Nov. 14 finance committee meeting minutes, student enrollment in C-I schools has fallen from 1,220 students the first week of school to 1,179 students by Nov. 2, a loss of 41 students.
During that meeting committee members worked through exercises to develop base budgeting assumptions for student enrollment and other factors. They discussed how 2008-09 student enrollment would be increasingly difficult to project for a variety of reasons, including that the current student enrollment is unstable this year and these figures serve as a base for future projections and the Weyerhaueser plant closing in Deerwood meant a community loss of 158 jobs with 35 of those employees having 95 students enrolled in C-I schools.
At the conclusion of the exercise, the enrollment projection for the 2008-09 school year was determined to be based on 1,035 students in the traditional K-12 program, estimating 505 students in grades K-6 at CRES and 521 students in grades 7-12 at the high school. There also was discussion that it might be necessary to prepare for an enrollment low of 960 students in K-12, according to the committee meeting minutes.
In addition to the special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, the school board will meet in its regular session at 7 p.m. Monday.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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