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NLS, Minn., budget cuts could be $240K to offset additional middle school teacher

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board on Monday continued its annual budget reduction process by refining the possible cuts for the 2012-13 school year.

The list of cuts on the district's "consider" list now totals $243,383, higher than the district's target range of $130,000 to $200,000. This is because administrators expect to add a sixth-grade teacher to accommodate a larger class next year.

The current sixth-grade class is 96 students in four sections, but the current fifth-grade class is 115 students, necessitating five sections, according to Superintendent Paul Carlson.

The district may also need to hire another kindergarten teacher, as there are 125 potential kindergarten students for the coming year. However, not all of the eligible students will start school and some may open enroll out of the district or attend private school, Carlson said. Any decision on kindergarten hiring would be made after registration later this spring.

The current list of cuts under consideration by the district includes $35,770 for a 0.5 full-time equivalent Spanish teacher; $77,349 for 1.6 FTE of high school teaching staff in yet-to-be determined areas; and $19,540 for sixth-class pay, the additional pay teachers receive for teaching additional class periods.

Based on the district's review of special education programs and case load, the estimated cuts to that area of funding were increased to $65,723.

An elementary paraprofessional position, funded by federal JOBS cash for one year, accounts for $16,316 in budget reductions.

Carlson said district administration is recommending that cutting 0.5 FTE of housekeeping, at a savings of $11,675, be included in the cuts, rather than $15,270 for the middle school intervention program.

Finally, the revenue generated by increasing student activity fees by $25 at the high school and $10 for middle school was analyzed by John Vraa, the district's activities director, who found that $17,010 could be generated by the increase.

A final decision on the cuts is expected April 9. Board chairman Robert Moller noted that the board needs to "firm up" the cuts by the March 26 meeting, because the final decision comes at the next board meeting.

The board also accepted letters of retirement from Peggy Dykema, who served the district for 27 years as school nurse, and Sharon LaPoint, the Prairie Woods Elementary special education coordinator and instructor, who served for 26 years.

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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