March 19, 2007

Divided board acts on cuts

DC boards decides to end Community Ed partnership with Litchfield

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Though the Dassel-Cokato School Board was not in consensus, final cuts were made last Monday which included combining the activities director and Community Education director position.

Two options were on the table, with each option containing cuts the board previously agreed on.

The three hot issues dividing the two options were the dean of students, combining the activities director and Community Education director, and changing the middle school schedule, which would eliminate two full-time employees (teachers).

Option 1 included the following:

• All day, every-other-day kindergarten from start of school year (transportation cost).

• Increases in activities fees, season passes, admissions, etc.

• Some cuts from each activity.

• Reducing the school’s contribution to Community Education.

• Reducing field trips by 50 percent.

• Cutting the custodial supervisor.

• Charging students for parking at $25 per trimester.

• Reducing the curriculum director’s position.

• Combining activities director and Community Education director position into one.

• Changing the middle school schedule and eliminating two full-time positions (teachers).

Option 2 included all of Option 1, excluding the activities director/Community Education director combination, elimination of a high school dean of students, and changing the middle school schedule, eliminating two teachers.

Eliminating the dean of students in the high school while hiring a new high school principal, along with maintaining the current culture of the school, caused Dahlman, Ness, and Linder to support Option 1, and keep the dean of students position.

There had been some confusion at the start of the meeting with the elimination of two teachers at a cost savings of $100,000. This caused Linder to not support Option 1.

Ness also explained that was why she supported Option 1 as well; knowing the positions would be allocated to other areas of need.

Supt. Jeff Powers explained that with two known retirements, Mark Herman and another teacher, the two full time positions could be allocated without any budget constraints.

After clarification that two teaching positions would be eliminated from the middle school, but reallocated to other buildings with needs, Linder then supported Option 1 as well.

Danielson, not in support of Option 1, encouraged the board to “look outside the box,” explaining the district “can’t have it the same.” “I don’t think [Option 1] quite does it,” Danielson said.

Bjork was not in favor of Option 1 either because he didn’t think the combination of the activities director and community education director would work.

“I’m not in favor of taking something that is working for $20,000,” he said.

In the end, with Cary Linder making the motion and Karen Ness seconding the motion, Option 1 passed with a 3-2 majority. Brian Danielson and Kevin Bjork both voted against it.

This decision will combine the activities director and Community Education director position while ending a 10-year partnership with Litchfield Community Eduction program, and shifting two FTEs from the middle schedule change to other areas of need.

Although Richard Tormanen was not physically at the meeting and could not vote, he stated he also would have voted for Option 1.

The total estimated savings for the district is $261,350, estimated revenue is $50,860, for a grand total savings of $312,210.

Final cuts for the DC school year 2007-08

Description Estimated Savings Estimated Revenue

All day, every other day kindergarten from start of school year/transportation cost $35,000

Increase in activities fees, season passes, admission, etc. $30,860

Some cuts of each activity $20,939

Reduce contribution to Community Education $10,000

Change Middle School schedule/two full-time employees (teachers) (reallocate)

Reduce field trips by 50 percent $15,000

Cut custodial supervisor $8,000

Charge students for parking, $25 per trimester $20,000

Reduce curriculum director’s position $97,411

Combine activities director and Community Education director positions into one $20,000

Savings due to attrition and reduced severance payouts $55,000

Totals $261,350 $50,860

GRAND TOTAL $312,210

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