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NLS board considering budget cuts, reviewing facilities needs for expected building levy vote

NEW LONDON — The New London-Spicer School Board on Monday discussed budget reductions for the 2014-15 school year and received a list of facility needs that will be used to organize a building levy question expected to be presented to voters in the November election.

The discussions were part of the board’s planning session at the conclusion of the official board meeting. Board chairman Robert Moller noted that the board will vote on the budget cuts at the May 12 meeting.

The target range for the cuts is $125,000 to $175,000. The “consider” portion of list is now $164,159 and has been pared to these reductions: reducing the district’s overall supply budget by 5 percent, which is a $9,817 reduction; 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 full-time equivalent family and consumer science teacher for $25,824; and trimming $87,675 by cutting a 0.5 full-time equivalent science and 0.87 full-time equivalent language arts teachers at the high school.

The supply budget cut has been reduced from the $25,000 cut in earlier drafts of the reductions and a cutting a 0.17 FTE math instructor has been taken off the list.

The teaching needs created by the language arts reduction would be filled with high school personnel, Superintendent Paul Carlson told the board. He also noted that the district will share the family and consumer science teacher with Willmar Schools, with Willmar getting 0.33 of the teacher’s time.

The “consider” list includes generating $6,605 in revenue by increasing student activity fees by $10 and reducing transportation costs by $6,983 for two fewer days of school.

There is also a list of cuts for the board to “potentially consider” that increases the total possible budget reductions to $213,473. That list includes saving $13,800 by cutting the mail clerk/secretary position and reassigning those duties to other staff members. That list also includes $28,714 by hiring an assistant principal instead of a principal to fill the opening created by the departure of elementary principal Joe Broderick, who is leaving to become superintendent at Osakis.

And the list also includes $14,224 in savings because the new principal would be paid less, having less experience, than the previous principal.

Carlson noted that district received 27 applications for the opening and that eight candidates will be interviewed by district personnel.

The potential cut list also includes cutting the high school journalism class, production of the school newspaper and supplies, for a savings of $6,800, and $18,982 in savings by realigning district media center personnel.

The board also received a list of facility needs created by the district’s building committee, as part of the process to ask voters to approve a building levy this fall. Carlson noted after the meeting that community members will be involved in the process.

The list includes a performing arts center for $7.4 million, remodeling at the high school and middle school buildings for $1.9 million, options to fill in the courtyard at Prairie Woods Elementary or add on to the building ranging from $1.7 million to $1.98 million, plus an option to add an athletic court at the elementary school for $2.2 million.  

The list also includes several fieldhouse options, ranging from $4.1 million to $9.8 million, depending on the size and the construction method for the building.

If district voters approve a $15 million building levy, the estimated cost to owners of a $200,000 home is about $100 more per year than the current building levies carried by the district, which are due to be paid in full in 2017, Carlson noted.

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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