By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN What began in January was finalized April 27 with the Delano School Board making $388,000 in budget adjustments for the upcoming fiscal year.
As reported following the school board’s March meeting, the proposed reductions remained unchanged.
Delano Schools Superintendent Dr. John Sweet explained at that meeting in March that a major portion of the adjustments comes from staff development funds.
He said state law requires that 2 percent of state aid be set aside for staff development, unless it is waived by the teachers and school board. The district proposed waiving a portion of the dollars set aside, and using reserves within the staff development budget to set a budget similar to what the district has had the past several years for staff development. This would be approximately $210,056.
At the meeting April 27, the school board acknowledged a letter from Delano Teachers Association (DTA) President Dan Paulson, noting it had voted in favor of this.
School Board Chairperson Peter Brasket expressed appreciation to the DTA and its leadership team for its support.
Other specific adjustments the district took action on include:
• eliminating a printed district calendar that gets mailed out, and putting the information online, at a savings of $6,000. It is proposed to leave $695 for a pre-school mailing.
“It’s also been suggested that calendar could be given out to some group to work with as a fundraiser, if someone wanted to take it on and sell it,” Sweet said in March. “But we will have the monthly calendar online.”
Since that time, a group from the middle school has offered to take on the project as a fundraiser.
• cutting the superintendent’s general supplies by $750, miscellaneous expenses by $200, travel and workshop expenses by $750, professional services by $250, and a superintendent’s salary freeze, at a savings of $2,571.
• reducing school board professional services by $1,600. This would leave enough in that fund to continue televising the board’s meetings. Sweet said it costs $60 per time to televise its meetings. He said the board would also reduce printing and binding costs and publishing minutes by $2,000. The district would instead publish summary minutes in the newspaper.
• approving a request from an industrial education teacher to reduce hours at a savings of $25,219; reducing two paraprofessionals due to the combination of classrooms, at a savings of $36,203; and not replacing a fourth grade position, that was hired as a one-year position, at a cost savings of $43,624.
A discussion took place about whether that means a specific reduction to a fourth grade teacher, or rather a reduction of one teacher in the elementary school. Sweet said that it is the reduction of one teacher in the elementary school, and said the motion approved by the board doesn’t tie the district to a specific grade level or position.
• savings on a copy machine lease in the amount of $6,000; cutting off a route in transportation time at a savings of $15,425.
• cutting the high school supply budget by $5,000; cutting the middle school supply budget by $5,000; and making $6,806 in reductions of office supplies, laminating film, handwriting consumables, and the Weekly Reader/Time for Kids at the elementary school.
• cutting $13,376 from the activities budget. Sweet said this won’t reduce any options for children, and relates more to coaches attending state tournaments and things of that nature.
• cutting $6,600 from buildings and grounds.
All of these items total the $388,000 needed to adjust the budget.
“These adjustments are based on the assumption that the state will not cut funding to k-12 education, but hold it level,” Sweet said. “If funding is not at least held level, the district will likely consider further adjustments for the coming school year.”
Sweet said during the meeting he is recommending one less teacher in the elementary school, and people don’t like that.
“I’m not positive that’s enough,” Sweet said, adding that more cuts may need to be made.
He said the district will be facing budgetary pressures, including a $921,912 proposed deficit for fiscal year 2010.
Sweet said in accordance with the district’s three-year plan, the deficit will first be offset by utilizing approximately $533,333 in fund balance, reducing the amount of the adjustments to $388,000, which was approved at the meeting. Brasket said the $388,000 would equate to about 2 percent of current expenditures.
“Our philosophy is to pull down our fund surplus to a minimum low of 9 percent of our budget over the next three years,” Brasket said.
Probationary employee contracts not renewed
At the meeting, the board approved two resolutions to not renew several licensed and non-licensed staff members within the school district.
Probationary teachers Adam Danielson, Thomas Braun, and Darin Riedel will be let go at the end of the 2008-09 school year and not renewed for the following year.
Probationary paraprofessionals Sandy Troke, Melissa McKay, and Laurie Zimmerman will also be let go at the end of the 2008-09 school year and not renewed for the following year.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved a school district agreement to move forward with Project Lead the Way, which is an engineering technology program.
The agreement needs to be in place to get started with summer training for the instructor. There is also an initial $27,000 needed for startup costs.
It was noted this agreement is not a commitment to fund the program, but rather states the school board’s intent to move forward with it and submit a request for training. External sponsors of the program are being sought at this time.
• renewed its contract with 4.0 Services for 2009, with Douglas voting against the motion. Board Member Carolyn Milano was absent from the meeting.
The district’s costs with 4.0 Services in 2008 was $20,125, and in 2009 will be $21,000.
• approved membership in the Minnesota State High School League for 2009-10.
• heard from Sweet that he and the district nurse are being proactive with constant updates on the “swine flu” and will keep people advised as needed.
• accepted the retirements of third grade teacher Naomi Sorenson and second grade teacher Audrey Larson and expressed appreciation to them for their years of service to the district.
The board also accepted the resignations of elementary school paraprofessional Deanne Carter, head varsity boys’ basketball coach James Longstreet, and head varsity girls’ basketball coach Tory Spanier.
The board also entered into a three-year contract with Barb Roy to be drama director and fall play choreographer.
Employment agreements were also approved for Katherine Evans to teach mat, replacing Jon Warta, who retired in September; and Mary Ann Bernat as a long-term substitute media specialist in the elementary school.
• noted the Delano Area Educational Foundation (DAEF) awarded $26,050 to all three school buildings for grants that had been submitted.
• took part in a demonstration from the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) program partnership with Delano High School and Sil-Pro.
Students Jeff Wetter, Jacob Motley, Mark Newcomb, Robert McMullen, Chris Mickelson, and Sandra Arnold were present at the meeting and received participation medals. The team received the highest-ranking rookie seed award for recent competition, as well as the General Motors Industrial Design Award.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Arnold’s father, Wayne Arnold, gave his perspective from a parent’s point of view, and expressed appreciation to the board, high school, and Sil-Pro for sponsoring the project.
• noted the elementary school’s Minnesota School of Excellence celebration that is set to take place Friday, May 15 at the Tiger Activity Center at 1 p.m. Elementary Principal Darren Schuler also noted a business partnership with Landscape Structures, which is donating 800 T-shirts for the celebration.
• noted that due to Memorial Day, the next regular school board meeting will take place Monday, May 18 at 7 p.m. at the Delano High School cafeteria.