Jan. 8, 2007

Public forum set for budget cuts

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

The Dassel-Cokato School Board discussed the timeline and process for the budget reductions for the 2007-08 school year at the Dec. 28 regular board meeting.

The process will begin with a public forum hosted by the DC PTA at the Performing Arts Center, Monday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.

The input received will then be discussed at an administrative board retreat. The board’s goal is to make a decision by the March study meeting.

Board member Denise Ertl’s term ended and the board will reorganize with new board member Kevin Bjork, Monday, Jan. 8.

The board approved a request to close open enrollment in second grade for 2006-07 school year and third grade for the 07-08 school year.

During the meeting, a facilities committee was formed with board members Cary Linder, Karen Ness, and Brian Danielson volunteering for the committee to help make a new fee structure for facilities.

Superintendent Jeff Powers will have two evaluations of his job performance, one in the winter and spring. The board will use the district’s goals and the guidelines of the Minnesota School Board Association.

December’s Russell A. Johnson Courtesy and Respect Award was given to senior Nicole Kaczmarek, daughter of Joanne Kaczmarek of Cokato.

The board also approved the second reading of revised policies and adoption of policy 503 regarding student attendance adding Saturday school to the list of disciplinary action options and updating suspension procedures along with the consideration of character education to readmission planning.

Policy number 516 regarding student medication had a change in law which adds a nonprescription pain relief medication exception for secondary students and requires an annual individualized written health plan for students prescribed nonsyringe injectors or epinephrine and identification of responsible staff.

In personnel items, the board

• approved Mary Russell as kitchen assistant at Dassel Elementary for three days a week,

• employment of Jane Dahlman as kitchen assistant at Dassel Elementary two days a week,

• employment of Desmond Hicks as special needs para at Dassel Elementary for three days a week

• Renita Moe as special needs para at the middle school,

• a request from Cokato Elementary teacher Piper Bader-Lampi for a medical leave of absence for 12 weeks and two weeks unpaid general leave of absence from Feb. 21 to June 6,

• a request by middle school teacher Sonia Whittaker for 12 weeks medical leave of absence and one week unpaid childcare leave of absence for approximately Feb. 11 through May 18.,

•a request for high school teacher for six weeks medical leave of absence from approximately March 19 through May 6,

• request from high school teacher Bryan Clemen for up to two weeks medical leave of absence.

The board also approved the reassignment of Brian Benson from the high school Focus program to the Alternative Learning Center coordinator beginning immediately, the resignation of Darla Nass as Type III driver for the district, the resignation of Jose Sturgeon as site supervisor for the Chargers Kids Club and approved the assignment of Dave Metcalf as the one act play director. The board also approved the lane changes for Jennifer Bertram, Rebecca Thielsen, and Sue Sparboe.

What can’t be cut?

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Due to the failing of last fall’s levy, the Dassel-Cokato School District must cut $300,000 from its 2007-08 budget, but there are parts of the budget that can’t be cut.

“There are numerous legal mandates we are required to meet and certain parts of the budget we can’t cut,” said DC Superintendent Jeff Powers.

With federal and state legislations, there are certain laws that regulate what the district can and can’t cut from its yearly budget.

Title 9, for example, is required through federal legislature for a school to provide equal opportunities for boys and girls through sports and extracurricular activities, according to Perry Thinesen, activities director.

“We need to offer as many options for girls to compete as boys,” Thinesen explained.

This means, there must be a similar budget, similar facilities, and an equal number of sports offered for both boys and girls to participate in, he said.

This fall, the district added dugouts for the varsity girls softball team and a scoreboard.

“The experience has to be very similar,” Thinesen said.

If it came down to cutting sports or extracurricular activities, “[an equal budget] would have to be a consideration,” Thinesen said.

He explained that if there were 10 boys sports and only nine girl sports, the number of total participants would have to be equal. For example, 300 female participants and 290 male participants in sports and activities.

“That would make us in compliance with Title 9,” he said.

Another factor to consider in the possible reduction of sports would be the number of participants and the cost of each sport – if there is a high or low participation, and how much each participant costs the district.

The top three programs that cost the district the most dollars are boys hockey, girls hockey, and gymnastics.

The three programs that cost the district the least amount of money are baseball, girls track, and girls cross country.

Other factors that need to be considered are the special education services that are required by the district, and state standards regarding academic content in classes like social studies, science, math and communications.

The district must also provide students with the requirements for college-bound students. Some of those requirements include two years of foreign language.

The board will try to make a decisions regarding the budget by its March regular board meeting.

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