By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN Cuts are never easy, and the Delano School District is looking at trimming almost $1 million out of its budget over the next three years.
The Delano School Board reviewed proposed budget adjustments for next school year at its meeting at the Loretto City Hall last Monday.
Delano Schools Superintendent Dr. John Sweet said these adjustments line up with the budget planning philosophy and three-year plan that were put in place prior to discussions about the details of reducing expenses. He said the district will be facing budgetary pressures, including a $921,912 proposed deficit for fiscal year 2010.
“The big picture is that next year, we expect our operating budget deficit to be about $900,000 to $1 million,” commented School Board Chairman Peter Brasket after the meeting, citing a combination of the district’s expectation of no significant increase in state funding, as well as increasing costs.
“Against that backdrop, we need to find a considerable amount of savings,” Brasket said. “That assumes no increase in general education funding from the state.”
Sweet said in accordance with the 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. 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.
Budget adjustments proposed for district
Sweet explained 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.
Sweet is proposing to waive a portion of the dollars set aside, and use 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.
“Between the staff and the board, those monies may be used for other purposes,” Brasket said. “So, to help with the deficit (and to avoid cuts in staffing), the educators will consider and vote on the one-time use of up to $210,000 of the staff development fund as part of our $388,000 goal.”
Sweet also said the district is still awaiting details of the federal stimulus package and the actions of the legislature.
“It appears there will be some one-time dollars we can use to either supplement some initiatives we have under consideration or stretch our existing fund balance for use in future years,” according to Sweet.
Some other specific adjustments the district is looking at including are:
• 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. “But we will have the monthly calendar online.”
• 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.
“We think we could reduce our publication costs by a third, which would be $500,” Sweet said.
• 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 about class sizes took place, and it was noted the average class size would be 25 students per classroom, going from seven fourth grade sections to six.
• 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.
The school board will act on the adjustments at the Monday, April 27 school board meeting that will be at the Delano City Hall at 7 p.m.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved an extended field trip for the Spanish class to Madrid, Spain March 24 through April 2, 2010. The board also recognized six students traveling to China.
• heard program updates from Elementary School Principal Darren Schuler regarding a Response to Intervention (RtI) program, and Kris Larson regarding the food service programs for the district.
• approved the hiring of Tory Spanier as an assistant golf coach and Dave Fiedler as a long-term substitute middle school science teacher.
• approved a family medical leave request for elementary school media specialist Jennah Verhey and high school math teacher Amanda Weinandt.
• heard from Sweet about a request from Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools regarding a possible co-op with dance and possibly swimming.
• heard from Community Education Director Diane Johnson about a community theatre partnership with Rockford and Orono for one production a year.
• approved no longer putting class rank on transcripts, but noted class rank will still be calculated and available to students on an individual basis.
“Some schools have done away with class rank on transcripts,” Schoen said at a previous meeting, noting most colleges look at grade point average, leadership opportunities, and percentiles, rather than class rank.
Schoen said the same rank procedure would be in place, but it would now be up to the individual students if they want it on their transcripts.