By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie School Board is preparing for cash flow challenges both in the short-term and in the long-term.
For the short-term, the board approved a change that will require all expenditure requests to be taken to the superintendent for approval, even items that have previously been approved under the current budget.
Supt. Mike McNulty explained that the state is withholding all cash payments to the district from March to May, and the district will not receive the payment until Sunday, May 30.
McNulty said by that time, the district will have expended its entire fund balance, including what it has borrowed.
For this reason, the board has instituted a freeze on all cash flow items unless approved by McNulty.
Looking at the more long-term financial health of the district, the board directed the administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions.
Board Member Joe Miller made reference to the $1 billion bonding bill recently proposed in the state legislature.
“If the state doesn’t solve its deficit, we are going to be back in the same position next fall,” Miller said.
Elementary Principal Pam Lukens said it is clear that the district will have less money next year.
One cost saving measure that has been discussed, according to Lukens, is a middle school concept, under which grades six through eight would be taught by high school teachers.
Lukens said the district has enough staff with appropriate licenses to make that work, and doing so would allow the district to eliminate a teaching position on the elementary side.
Another change that has been discussed, according to Lukens, is implementing all- day, every-other-day kindergarten.
This would likely include the kindergarten class being split into a Monday-Wednesday group, and a Tuesday-Thursday group. The groups would have class on alternating Fridays.
This could save the district $12,000 to $13,000 in transportation costs by eliminating the mid-day bussing, Lukens said.
No decisions have yet been made. These items are simply among the cost-cutting measures that are being considered.