A difficult time in education
The Park Rapids School Board has had to make some very difficult decisions in the last few weeks and we don't envy them.
There were no good decisions to be made. Money needed to be cut and salaries are the biggest portion of the school district's budget.
It's unfortunate that the German program will be eliminated from Park Rapids Area High School. It's unfortunate that an elementary principal is part of the reductions. It's unfortunate that some elementary teacher positions left vacant by retirees won't be filled. But if those positions weren't eliminated, it would have been something else.
At its last meeting, the school board accepted a proposal to increase participation fees for activities and admission fees for sports. This will likely hurt some families but the increases might save these programs.
State funding decreases over the years have put Park Rapids in a difficult position, along with many schools around the state.
The board had to make budget decisions for next year before it heard what it would be receiving in state funding. There's talk that K-12 funding won't be cut at the state level. There's talk that it could be reduced. No one knows at this point and the board made the decision to brace for the worst.
School districts could see an adjustment in how state aid is distributed, from 90 percent during the school year/10 percent in the fall to possibly 73 percent during the school year/27 percent in the fall. That would have a significant impact on a budget.
We sympathize with the decisions school board members had to make. They were not easy decisions. And there's more to come. The board also has to look toward the future.
Park Rapids Area Schools will likely see declining enrollment in the next few years, which affects state funding. Also, the state's budget woes will continue next year, meaning the school district's budget woes will continue.
This means more cooperation and understanding will be needed from everyone - parents, students, teachers, administrators.
This year's cuts will already have significant ramifications including increased class sizes at the elementary school and teachers taking on more responsibilities. Century School will need to make adjustments to fill the responsibilities of one of its principals.
Sports and fine arts have few areas left to trim without cutting programs completely. We hope that doesn't come.
But we have to face the fact that it's a difficult time in education. We hope a turnaround will happen but we have to brace ourselves in case that takes a while.