Budget cuts on Willmar School Board agenda Monday

Declining enrollment leads to the loss of state aid, which is leading to budget cuts at Willmar Public Schools. Pandemic relief has helped the district avoid cuts until now.

A file photo of the Willmar Public Schools sign at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, where the administration offices are located.
Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — Proposed budget cuts will be on the agenda when the Willmar School Board meets Monday.

The board meets at 4:30 p.m. in the boardroom/rehearsal hall at the Willmar Education and Arts Center.

The board plans to cut $2 million from the general fund budget before the 2023-24 school year.

That amount represents the amount of state aid the district is losing due to declining enrollment.

Federal pandemic relief aid helped the district maintain its operations during the pandemic, but that funding will expire soon.


The document with the proposed cuts does not include specifics, but it lists at least 30 jobs that could be affected.

It includes 15 jobs in elementary schools, 13.7 jobs in secondary schools and two district level support positions.

The list includes a total of 17 teachers and seven paraprofessionals. Other jobs on the list include crossing guards, a playground supervisor and an assistant coach.

The number of students fell after the start of the pandemic, rebounded for a while and fell again. Before the pandemic, the district had seen steady increases in enrollment for several years.

During the 2019-20 school year, the district had 4,261 students. In the current year, enrollment has been a little more than 4,000.

Public school enrollment loss has been a national issue during the pandemic.

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Willmar also loses about 500 students through open enrollment into other area districts, but that number has been stable.

School officials have said the more recent losses appear to be from families moving out of the area.


Other issues on the agenda include a resolution for non-renewal of probationary teachers, a discussion about making up snow days and resolution to withdraw from the Little Crow Telemedia Network.

The board will also hear reports from administrators and vote to accept a list of gifts and donations totaling more than $52,000.

The board sets aside time to listen to comments from the public twice during its meetings. Comments on agenda items are allowed at the beginning of the meeting. Comments not related to the agenda are accepted at the end of the meeting.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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