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Suggestions on budget still sought by Willmar School Dist.

WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District is still seeking budget cutting recommendations from employees and the public, but they should be submitted soon.

A survey posted on the district's Web site,, will be up through the end of the week, Sup-erintendent Jerry Kjergaard said this week.

The district estimates that it will need to cut $1.4 million from its 2010-2011 budget. That number could be higher, depending on how the state chooses to handle a project budget deficit.

Kjergaard has told the Willmar School Board that as much as $3 million may need to be trimmed from the budget if the state cuts school funding.

Most funding for school districts comes from state aid, and the state also controls most local school property taxes. The only way school districts can raise more money is through a voter-approved operating levy.

The School Board passed a resolution in December asking school officials to suggest budget cuts.

This is the second year that the district has asked people to submit suggestions for cutting the budget. As with last year, all the ideas submitted by employees and the public will be considered.

Last year, the district cut $2.8 million before the 2009-2010 school year began. The cuts led to larger class sizes and the closing of two smaller school buildings.

Many of the last year's ideas were included at least partially in the $2.8 million in budget cuts the district made.

This year's survey includes four questions and then asks respondents to rank a list of nine district goals by importance. It also asks people to indicate whether they are community members or employees.

The survey gives the option of including name, phone number and e-mail, but it's not required.

The questions ask what services are viewed as essential, which ones are important but could be cut if needed and which ones are non-essential. A final question asks for budget cutting suggestions.

The goals to be prioritized include a variety of statements, like "Maintain competitive salaries and benefits," "Emphasize K-3 education," and "Foster positive school and community relationships."

To participate in the survey, go to the district's Web site and click on "Take the WPS Budget Reduction Survey, 2010-2011" on the left side of the screen.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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