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Officials at NLS discuss budget cuts that could reach $200K

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board on Monday reviewed the first draft of potential budget reductions for the 2012-13 school year.

According to School Board Chairman Robert Moller, who also serves on the district's finance committee, the goal is to trim between $130,000 and $200,000 from the budget. The district has made approximately $200,000 in cuts each year for the past several years. Last year, the cuts totaled $193,214 and the previous year, $289,790 was trimmed from the budget.

Moller commended the board for its continuous efforts, noting that larger cuts haven't been required because of the board's diligence. He also lamented that the cuts are an annual event.

"It's that time of year when we have to look at the budget and tighten our belts," he said.

Superintendent Paul Carlson presented the administration's draft listing of possible cuts, divided into three categories: "consider", "potentially consider" and "should not consider at this time."

The "consider" list, a total of $224,733, includes cutting a 0.5 full-time equivalent high school foreign language teacher, for savings of $34,142; trimming 1.6 FTE in high school teaching staff from core areas, the district's Alternative Learning Center and FACS classes, for savings of $77,349; cutting high school sixth-class pay by $19,540; trimming elementary paraprofessional time by $16,316; and reducing the middle school intervention program by $15,270. The district is also doing a case load analysis of special education programs and could save $47,891 in that area. Finally, the district could receive $14,225 more in revenue by raising activities fees by $20 to $25 on middle and high school students.

The "potentially consider" list, a total of $65,977, includes eliminating a 0.5 FTE high school counselor, for savings of $24,002; cutting a 0.5 FTE housekeeper, for savings of $11,675; cutting the mail clerk, for savings of $13,800; and reducing $10,000 in extracurricular equipment purchases. The final item on the list is charging $50 per family that open enroll students into the district for transportation costs, raising $6,500 in revenue.

The "should not consider" list includes $221,540 in cuts and includes eliminating the school resource officer contract with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office, for savings of $52,718; cutting a 0.5 FTE art teacher, for savings of $24,650; cutting kindergarten to four days a week at a teacher pay savings of $50,930; and moving extracurricular activities for grades seven and eight to community education, for savings of $39,242. The final item on the list would be revenue of $54,000, by having families pay a $15 per week fee for all-day, everyday kindergarten.

Board member David Kilpatrick, who also serves on the finance committee, noted that the goal range of $130,000 to $200,000 will help the district add to its general fund balance, which is less than the amount auditors have advised.

The board also approved seniority lists for the district's teachers, classified staff and early childhood family education staff members. The lists are also part of the budget reduction process.

A final decision on the budget cuts is expected at the board's April 9 regular meeting.

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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