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NLS board receives draft of possible budget reductions

NEW LONDON — The New London-Spicer School Board on Monday received the first draft of potential budget reductions for the 2014-15 school year.

The list includes a total of approximately $212,000 in possible reductions. While handing the list to board members and meeting visitors, Superintendent Paul Carlson noted that the list was very much in draft form.

“The big word here is draft,” Carlson said. “This is a beginning point in the conversation.”

Carlson noted that he wants the district’s school principals to meet with the board at the March 24 meeting to discuss the potential cuts.

The district’s finance committee will also meet to review the projections from the district’s use of the new financial planning model to determine an appropriate range for the annual budget cuts before the March 24 meeting.

The potential cuts include cutting the district-wide supply and equipment budget by $25,000; cutting a 0.5 full-time equivalent media center instructor and realigning the assignment for a savings of $18,982; cutting sixth-class pay — the additional amount teachers receive for teaching an extra class — by $27,255 at the high school; cutting a 0.33 family and consumer science teacher at the high school for $25,824; and trimming $91,373 by cutting 0.5 full-time equivalent science, 0.17 full-time equivalent math and 0.5 full-time equivalent language arts teachers at the high school due to lower student numbers and fewer sections. The list also includes cutting the high school journalism class, production of the school newspaper and supplies, for a savings of $6,800, and reducing activity expenses by $3,500 by reducing the number of events in all activities.

The final potential reduction — on the “potentially consider” list presented by Carlson — is saving $13,800 by cutting the mail clerk/secretary position and reassigning those duties to custodial and secretarial staff members.

The possible cut to activities would include reductions in sporting events and all activities, Carlson noted. He also noted the budget reduction number was an approximate number and that most of the savings would be in transportation cost. The district would also lose income, the admissions money, from events where gate admission is charged.

Board member Helena Lungstrom asked how the cut would be made fairly across activities with different numbers of events and how the reductions would work along with the fact that parents are paying activity fees for their students to participate.

Action on the budget reductions is expected later this spring. The district has general fund revenues and expenditures of approximately $13 million per year.

The board also approved the 2014-17 West Central Achievement and Integration Plan, as a member of the six-district collaborative that also includes Willmar, ACGC, BOLD, Montevideo, MACCRAY and KMS schools. New London-Spicer’s focus in the plan is to close the achievement gap of students who receive free or reduced price lunches, specifically in mathematics.

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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