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Nevis board weighs stimulus, budget implications for district

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Nevis board weighs stimulus, budget implications for district
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The Nevis School Board reviewed possible effects of the federal stimulus package this week via a Web cast from Lee Warne of the Rural Minnesota Education Association.


"The money is coming our way," Warne told the board, meeting in the industrial technology/shop room. "The issue is the timing of when the money shows up."

He forecast a federally imposed timeline will create a sense of urgency in the Legislature. "Bills will need to come out of committee by the end of March," Warne said, predicting a special session on the horizon.

Superintendent Steve Rassier, while welcoming a possible infusion of funds this year, specifically in special education, expressed concern for next year.

"My fear is the year after this," he told the board.

Current allocations to school districts are 90 percent followed by the remaining 10 percent the next fiscal year, he said.

The Legislature is seriously considering modifying this to an 80-20 funding timeline, he said. If adopted, the state would realize a temporary $1.3 billion "savings."

Districts with a fund balance, like Nevis, Rassier said, would not face a cash flow problem. Others would have to resort to short-term borrowing, he said.

But for most districts, including Nevis, a two-year period of the 80-20 cash infusion schedule would create problems, he said.

"It's not fixing the problem but delaying it," Rassier said.

"A detailed breakout by district is yet to come," he said.

In other action, the board:

-Agreed to freeze Early Childhood fees for fiscal year 2009-10, adding "no one will be turned away" due to an inability to pay.

The pre-kindergarten class for children a year prior to kindergarten will be offered from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. two days a week. Parents may choose Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday.

The annual fee for the class is based on family income, ranging from $270 for those making up to $24,999 to $600, for families earning over $85,000.

School readiness for 3-year-olds meets 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Those fees range from $170 to $350 annually, based on income.

Walt Bromenschenkel pointed out the fees are much less expensive per hour than day care and the children are in a structured learning environment.

-Received an update on the Hubbard County Family Service Collaborative from Daryl Bessler.

The program, he said, began as an informal arrangement between Social Service and Laporte and Nevis school districts, "working together to leverage money" to avoid out-of-home placement.

Three services evolved from the initiative, including school-home intervention, day treatment and in-home family service.

"The idea was to provide services for the child and the family," Bessler said. "The school served as the vehicle."

In 1998, the state suggested a formal collaborative, providing additional funding.

Initially, the schools were reluctant, Bessler recalled, but agreed.

Funding for the program has decreased, "but the school home interventionist position holds high priority in the superintendents' eyes," he said.

Heidi Wormley was the first to serve in the role, initially working in both the Nevis and Laporte districts.

Rassier said funding no longer exists for a truancy tracker, but the school-home intervention roles will continue.

The board approved a contract with Stellher Human Services to cover services provided by Wormley and Katrina Carrier through the end of the school year,

"They have helped kids stay in school who might not otherwise have graduated," Bessler said.

-Reported the school's three make-up days for weather cancellations will April 13, May 29 and June 1.

-Approved the school calendar for 2009-10. School begins the day after Labor Day, Sept. 8. Last day of school will be May 28, with graduation May 29.