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New London-Spicer school officials identify up to $280K in possible cuts from their budget

NEW LONDON -- The New London Spicer School Board identified a range of $225,000 to $280,000 for possible budget reductions at the regular meeting Thursday, which was postponed from Monday due to the weather.

With that action Thursday, the list of possible budget cuts has expanded to $860,613, from the district administration's list of $559,241 in potential cuts presented at the Feb. 1 board meeting.

Those additions identified Thursday were made based on feedback from the school board, staff and community, according to Superintendent Paul Carlson.

New to the list of possible budget reductions is reducing all-day, everyday kindergarten to four days per week, thereby reducing five teachers each to 0.8 full-time equivalent positions, saving an estimated $53,711. Another option to generate revenue is charging a kindergarten fee of $900, generating an estimated $90,000.

In a phone interview on Friday, Carlson stressed that the board sees all-day, everyday kindergarten as a high-priority program and members do not want to cut that program.

The district began offering all-day kindergarten in the 2007-08 school year.

Also on the list of possible budget reductions is eliminating the school-funded resource officer, a Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputy, which would save $60,523.

Savings in transportation included two fewer days of school, a savings of $7,440, and reducing the number of bus routes from 16 to 15 routes, a savings of $39,990. Also included in the transportation area is $30,927 by reassigning transportation discipline duties.

Other additions to the list include savings of $6,668 by reducing the coaching levels in cross country, gymnastics and junior high wrestling and $5,000 in savings by eliminating two games per sport, one away and one home contest.

The board's discussion also included not eliminating programs and opportunities for students when selecting where to make the budget reductions, Carlson said. For example, eliminating the school resource officer would also end the school's DARE drug-resistance education program.

The board also reviewed Thursday an administration list of reductions, totaling $268,590. Those cuts include eliminating the assistant principal position, realigning secretarial jobs, cutting 0.5 full-time equivalent position in school counseling, replacing the retiring business manager with an accountant, increasing extra-curricular fees to $100 for high school and $75 for middle school.

The board is also striving to keep the budget reductions away from the classroom, Carlson said. The budget reduction process continues at the next meeting on Feb. 22, when the board will consider revisions to the current school year budget.

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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