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MACCRAY School Board cuts $301,000 from budget

CLARA CITY -- The MACCRAY School Board cut $301,000 from the 2009-10 school year budget Monday evening and adopted new fees to raise $25,000.

The cuts are needed to prepare for declining enrollment and possible reductions in state aid next year, Superintendent Greg Schmidt said in a telephone interview this week.

The cut is nearly 5 percent of this year's expenses.

The board had talked about making $350,000 in cuts but stopped short, Schmidt said.

"We got to this level, and without doing something dramatic like closing a building or consolidating administrative positions, there was nothing else we could think of," he said.

Many districts are assuming the state will freeze its funding for schools next year, but MACCRAY officials assumed a 3 percent cut in making budget decisions. The Legislature and governor have not reached agreement yet on how to fix a $4.6 billion projected budget deficit. Proposals range from a 2 percent increase to a 3 percent decrease.

Schmidt said he'd rather be wrong about the state aid issue, but wanted to make sure the district was ready for whatever decisions the state makes.

If state aid isn't cut, some items that were cut could be added back.

A big problem for MACCRAY will be enrollment, Schmidt said. The district will graduate 80 students this spring but expects a kindergarten class of fewer than 40.

Since districts receive less state aid for kindergarteners, the district expects to see less state aid regardless of what the Legislature does.

The board adopted a list of two dozen reductions and fee increases. The list had been developed by the School Board at a series of recent workshops.

The list includes the elimination of one full-time teaching position, one full-time elementary library paraprofessional position and one full-time custodial position.

The board also reduced the hours for seven teachers. Affected by that are high school language arts, special education, industrial technology, Spanish and science teachers, as well as a vocal music teacher and an elementary instrumental music teacher.

Other hours reductions will affect the school psychologist and a special education paraprofessional. The gifted/talented paraprofessional position will be eliminated.

MACCRAY will begin charging admission to home track meets and baseball and softball games, effective this spring. Activity fees will increase from $75 to $80 for varsity sports. It will be $20 for students who qualify for reduced-price lunch.

Admission will be charged for band and choir concerts, too.

The district also plans to move its alternative high school and early childhood programs out of the former Junior High building. The district closed the school two years ago. A business bought the building but the district had continued to lease some space there.

The board also heard reports on the progress of the district's requirement that freshmen do 20 hours of community service this year. Schmidt said most of the students are making progress on the requirement.