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Board begins reduction journey

WORTHINGTON -- Setting a Feb. 2 work session to begin hammering out cuts for the 2006-2007 academic year, the District 518 Board of Education on Tuesday was presented a preliminary reductions list while welcoming staff and public input.

In providing the list, Superintendent John Landgaard told board members that a pre-referendum mailing to residents anticipated a minimum target of $400,000 for first-year reduction. But now, he said at Tuesday's regular meeting, "In order to balance the budget for the 2006-2007 year, $525,000 in reductions will need to be made." Further adjustments are possible, he added.

A District 518 operating referendum failed in November, forcing board members to consider major cuts for the next two years. Landgaard told the board Tuesday, "In the second year (2007-2008), without an operating referendum, we would be in Statutory Operating Debt without major reductions."

The administration list presented to board members Tuesday offered the following reductions for discussion for $631,500 (estimated savings are in parentheses):

l Close Prairie Lakes building and move to West building ($65,000)

l Reduce PSEO costs to colleges ($10,000)

l Terminate rental contracts with the city and NCIC for space ($25,000)

l Eliminate auto mechanics program ($30,000)

l Eliminate 2.0 FTE elementary teaching positions ($90,000)

l Eliminate 1.0 FTE Middle School teaching positions ($45,000)

l Eliminate Assistant Special Programs Director position ($80,000)

l Eliminate or reduce leadership funding ($6,000)

l Increase season ticket passes prices ($5,000)

l Eliminate 1.0 FTE Media Specialist position ($45,000)

l Eliminate 1.0 FTE translation position ($37,000)

l Increase rental fees ($1,000)

l Increase participation fees for all activities ($10,000)

l Reduce Activities Coordinator position ($5,000)

l Set staff development set aside at 1 percent ($100,000)

l Eliminate 0.8 FTE high school teaching position ($30,000)

l Eliminate 5.0 FTE paraprofessional positions ($75,000)

l Minimum activity fee for all students of $10 ($22,000)

Landgaard also submitted a discussion list for 2007-2008, which included: eliminate tennis, cross country, golf, cheerleading, debate, declam, gymnastics, dance line, pep band, jazz band, vocal ensembles, orchestra stipend; eliminate all day, every day kindergarten; eliminate orchestra; eliminate 2.0 FTE guidance positions in the Middle School and high school; eliminate 1.5 high school teaching positions; eliminate 1.0 FTE teaching position at ALC.

In setting discussion dates, board chairman Bob Jirele encouraged input from all sources.

"We would welcome input from our staff. I would also welcome any member of the community to attend a Feb. 13 public hearing, or feel free to contact any school board member at any time," Jirele said.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He self-publishes original fiction in his spare time. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" are being distributed through a national publisher.

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