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New London-Spicer board gets first list of potential budget cuts

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School board on Tuesday received the first draft of potential budget reductions for the 2011-12 school year.

Superintendent Paul Carlson told the board the $465,723 in possible cu-ts was not an administrative recommendation, but rather a list.

Board action on likely reductions of $200,000 to $300,000 is expected in April.

The list includes reducing five kindergarten teachers from full-time to 0.8 FTE, at a savings of $50,930, and moving kindergarten from five to four days a week. Correspondingly, the district could offer a fifth day supplemental kindergarten program through community education at a cost of $15 per week per student. That would generate an estimated $54,000 if 100 students sign up for the program.

The district added a fifth section of kindergarten in August after larger-than-expected student numbers pushed section sizes to 26 or 27 students per class. The additional teacher's salary of $50,521 was funded by one-time federal JOBS funding intended to retain education jobs.

Another significant savings item is moving seventh- and eighth-grade activities to community education, moving $58,000 in revenue and expenses out of the district's general fund and into the community education budget.

Also included was cutting a 0.5 FTE high school counselor position and school resource officer. That measure would save more than $75,000. However, the district uses safe schools levy funds -- restricted use funds not part of the general fund -- for those positions. Therefore, cutting the resource officer, provided through an annual contract with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office, could provide funding for the counselor position.

Teacher cuts included a 0.67 FTE district-wide music teacher. At the middle- and high-school level, the cuts could include a 0.5 FTE foreign language teacher, and 0.2 FTE teaching positions in business education, FACS, English/language arts, social studies and science. The 0.2 FTE equates to cutting one section at the middle- and high-school level.

Other possible cuts include eliminating a housekeeper, at a savings of $23,500; a mail clerk, at a savings of $13,800; $4,892 in teacher sixth-class pay; and $15,270 in special education paraprofessional funding.

Possible cuts to extracurricular activities include reducing the equipment budget by $10,000; cutting an assistant cross country coach, at a savings of $2,031; a junior high wrestling coach, at a savings of $2,484; and a softball coach, at a savings of $2,031.

Also included on the list is the possibility of charging transportation costs for open-enrolled students. The move, estimated at $161 per family, could generate $11,288 in revenue. That figure is based on charging an estimated 70 students for the average 10 miles traveled per day to transport them to school.

In other action:

n The board heard a report from Carlson on sharing food and nutrition services with the Willmar and Montevideo districts. Willmar's food service director, Annette Derouin, would spend 20 days during the next school year working for and with the NLS district and its food service staff. Derouin is a registered dietitian.

The arrangement would help NLS serve more balanced meals, become more efficient and increase the district's buying power by purchasing and serving the same menu as Willmar and Montevideo, Carlson said.

Board action on the agreement between the three districts could come in March.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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