ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Willmar School Board to begin budget-cutting process at Monday, Jan. 9, meeting

A drop in enrollment is leading the Willmar School Board to ask its administrators to look at ways to reduce spending for the next school year.

WCT.STOCK.WEACSchoolBoard.0019.jpg
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
We are part of The Trust Project.

WILLMAR — A resolution on the Willmar School Board agenda could lay the groundwork for budget cuts in the spring.

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

The board will hold its reorganizational meeting before its regular meeting Monday. The meeting includes election of officers and designating meeting dates, depositories and the official newspaper.

The agenda for the regular meeting includes a resolution directing the administration to make recommendations on programming and staffing for the next school year. If it’s adopted, it orders district leaders to study the district’s finances and enrollment and propose changes,

Willmar’s enrollment fell at the beginning of the pandemic and has not fully recovered. It’s a common issue for public schools in Minnesota and nationwide.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, schools receive most of their funding from the state, and the state bases its aid to schools on the number of students.

At the board’s December meeting, enrollment was reported to be 4,093 in grades K-12, 125 fewer students than at the same time a year ago.

Related:
Education Minnesota, the state's largest education union, sponsors the annual Teacher of the Year honor. Three area teachers are among the 131 candidates announced this week.

The district’s financial statements list average daily enrollment of 4,142 in the 2021-22 school year; 4,085 students in 2020-21; and 4,261 students in 2019-20.

Pandemic relief aid has helped schools maintain their operations in some ways. However, much of the aid has expired, and what remains has limited uses.

The resolution asks administrators to determine whether some programs or staff positions must be reduced or discontinued.

The board will also hear reports from administrators and accept a list of gifts and donations.

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.

More from LINDA VANDERWERF
COVID-19 isn't gone in Minnesota, but hospitalizations and deaths are lower in the latest state update. About 120 fewer people were in hospitals this week than in the week before.
The state reported an average of 500 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day last week and an average of nine deaths per day. The case average was lower, but the average daily deaths was higher.
Breaking News
Prosecution errors freed Thomas Rhodes from prison and overturned his murder convictions Friday. A memo found in the prosecution's files last year contributed to his release.
People who have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with symptoms should get tested for COVID-19. Minnesota is ready to send four free tests for anyone who wants them.
Falling enrollment for Willmar Public Schools is likely to lead to budget cuts before the start of the 2023-24 school year. The School Board began the process with adopting a resolution Monday night.
What happens when the state of Minnesota allows only five e-learning days and some schools have used their last one in the first week of January? It could lead to some old-fashioned snow days.
The rise of COVID-19 cases has slowed in Minnesota, but the state continues to see an average of nearly 675 confirmed cases and five deaths per day in the pandemic which began nearly three years ago.
The state of Minnesota continues to average about seven deaths and more than 800 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 each day. The omicron variant has been the dominant variant for more than six months.
To find a partial solution to hiring problems, U.S. school districts have hired experienced teachers from other countries in recent years. Willmar joined that group this year, with five teachers.
The remnants of a severe winter storm continued to cause closed and icy roads Saturday afternoon. Motorists were urged to check 511mn.org, use caution, slow down and increase following distances.

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: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
What To Read Next
In split 5-2 votes, Willmar City Council approved accepting a grant to construct an outdoor fitness court and applying for an Age-Friendly Minnesota Community grant.
The administration is bringing back an Obama-era decision, later reversed by Trump, that bans new mineral leases on 225,500 acres of the Superior National Forest for the next two decades.
A 15-year-old male suffered what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries after a crash reported Wednesday night to the Minnesota State Patrol. The driver, a 19-year-old male, was not injured.
Sticker shock over the estimated cost to replace the 1967 office of the Yellow Medicine County Highway Department — construction costs are estimated at $295 per square foot — have led the County Board to move cautiously.