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Willmar School Board to make budget decisions

WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board is scheduled to make a series of decisions Monday to cut $2.5 million from the 2008-09 budget and reorganize the district's elementary and junior high schools.

The board meets at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center. The meeting may be seen live on local cable television on public access channel 18.

The board will consider a package of budget cuts that includes closing two buildings and reorganizing several others. The action is expected to leave the district with two elementary schools instead of four. Early childhood, community education and adult basic education programs could also be moving to a different building.

The board has discussed the cuts since district administrators first submitted the proposal in late January. The plan has evolved through several discussions and now includes proposals to close Lincoln Elementary and Washington schools and to add seven kindergarten rooms to Roosevelt Elementary.

Next fall, the district could have two K-5 elementary schools, Kennedy and Roosevelt. The current junior high would become a middle school with grades 6-8. The Senior High and the Area Learning Center at Garfield would not be affected by the reorganization.

Early childhood, community education and adult basic education programs now in Washington would move to Jefferson Elementary.

The budget proposal includes increasing class sizes and laying off faculty members at all grade levels. It also includes a reorganization of the special education department that would result in several layoffs.

The board's agenda includes a list of retirements to be approved. The list includes 12 elementary teachers, a physical education teacher and a speech clinician.

Also on the agenda are two resolutions to begin the process of laying off probationary teachers and some tenured teachers. Most are full-time positions, and some are part-time.

The list of probationary teachers includes 27 people representing the equivalent of 21.5 full-time positions.

The list of tenured teachers includes nine people representing the equivalent of six full-time positions. Five of the tenured teachers are special education teachers.