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Retirements a factor in next year's school budget

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Several teachers could face non-renewal of their positions this fall if the Park Rapids Area School Board approves proposed budget adjustments at its next meeting.

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Several factors were included when looking at the budget, said Park Rapids Superintendent Glenn Chiodo Monday night. The district has been monitoring enrollment numbers and retirements.

"In most cases, when you sit down and look at this stuff ... you try to figure out what the best of the worst is because none of it's good," Chiodo said. "It never is good. Nonetheless, these are decisions we have to look at."

This year, there were no retirements.

"That was huge," he said. "Over the years, in the nine years I've been here, we've utilized retirements multiple times to make budget adjustments. Whether people recognize it or not I don't know."

Many times, the district has not replaced a teacher who retired or hired a newer teacher who had a lower salary.

"In the last two years, quite frankly, we've been able to live off the retirements," Chiodo said.

Another factor is "bubble classes," or classes with much higher numbers than others.

"This year, at the high school, we've had the reverse," he said. "We will have multiple classes that have some of the lowest numbers that we've had since I've been here."

It is all concentrated at the high school level, Chiodo said. Some of the elementary classes are larger.

The other piece is at the elementary level. For the last four years, the district has gone into the summer months with four sections of kindergarten and then added one in the fall if enrollment is there.

"We currently have six but this summer we're figuring on four sections again," Chiodo said.

The proposed adjustments include non-renewal of first grade teacher Jody Bettin, Title I teacher Alicia Hillesland and third grade teacher Joe Kuehn; placing high school social studies teacher Scott Petrowski on unrequested leave of absence; reducing high school media director Susan Cassidy from 1 FTE to .5 FTE; reducing high school math teacher Stacy Klinkhammer from 1 FTE to .6 FTE; moving Shelli Walsh from Century Middle School Dean of Students to full time social studies teacher/district wide assessment and curriculum assessment; and permission to post for a K-8 assistant principal.

The proposal will be voted on at the next school board meeting Monday, April 2.

The school board approved one adjustment Monday. Aaron Morris will move from an EBD (Emotional and Behavioral Disorders) instructor at Century Middle School to Student Success Program coordinator. The district will need to fill the position for EBD instructor.

"People really are supportive of the (Student Success) Program," Chiodo said.

The program was started two years ago with a grant. The grant is running out but the program has been very successful, he said.

The proposal to move Walsh back to the high school is in part due to conversations with the state about starting an ALC, or Area Learning Center.

"This lady would have something to do with that too if it, in fact, comes full circle," Chiodo said. "... We're in the process of gathering information to see if it's feasible."

He stressed that it is not a done deal.

"The state people, given what we have with our ALP program, Student Success Program and Targeted Services, it all fits and the state folks think it made a lot of sense," he said.

The school board will make a decision at its next meeting April 2.

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Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
(218) 732-3364
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