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School cuts include elementary principal

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

A reduction of two and a half teaching positions and one administrator position are among proposed staff cuts at Park Rapids Area Schools.

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Superintendent Glenn Chiodo made the proposal Monday night at the school board meeting.

Proposed budget adjustments include non-replacement of retirements and reductions of some positions.

"The current number that we're looking at when it's all said and done ... will be right around the $700,000 mark," Chiodo said. "... We also know that we'll have to make reductions again next year."

Nine people are retiring at the end of this year, which significantly helped with the reductions, he said. The proposal includes some non-replacement of retiring teachers.

"We were already going to have to make reductions ... but working with retirements was a much easier process," Chiodo said.

At the elementary school, proposed adjustments include non-replacement of a full-time kindergarten teaching position, non-replacement of a full-time second grade teaching position and non-replacement of a full-time third grade teaching position.

At the middle school, proposed adjustments include reduction of a full- time reading position and reduction of a full-time computer position. Also, Chiodo listed a non-renewal of a full-time seventh grade science position but said that would be re-filled so won't be calculated in the budget reductions.

At the high school, proposed adjustments include reduction of a full-time physical education position, reduction of a half-time health/physical education position and non-replacement of a full-time German position.

A full-time Century School administrator position is also among the proposed reductions. Elementary principal Mitch Peterson said he had been speaking with administration about the proposed administrator reduction.

Because of seniority and bumping, one of the people whose position is listed among the proposed cuts can move into another position, Chiodo said. That means only two and a half teaching positions and one administrator position would be cut with this proposal.

The total projected savings for these staff reductions is about $542,000.

Chiodo also proposed a reduction in Community Education of a full-time driver's education position for about $55,000 in savings, although that is a separate budget.

He also estimates that the school district will save about $61,000 by replacing some retirements in elementary special education, elementary Title I, middle school special education and high school math.

Chiodo explained the reasons for the proposed budget adjustments.

• A potential decrease in state funding. The state is proposing some significant decreases in funding, Chiodo said.

• A proposed adjustment in receiving state aid from 90 percent during the school year/10 percent in the fall to 80 percent during the school year/20 percent in the fall. This could create some issues with budgeting, Chiodo said.

• Proposed enrollment decreases over the next two years.

"It's coming down, our numbers are lower in the lower grades," Chiodo said. "We're seeing the trend of numbers lowering."

Next year, he estimates the school district will have about 25 fewer students, which affects state funding.

• A loss of about $200,000 in revenue because of one-time money from the state for 2008-09.

• Inflationary increases, such as heat, electricity and insurance.

Ramifications of the proposed cuts include increased class sizes at the elementary level.

"Because the enrollment numbers appear to be going down ... I see us over the next couple years ultimately becoming a four-section school in that building, K-8," Chiodo said. Many of the grades now have five sections.

With the proposed reductions, the middle school (5-8) will be a four-section school, he said. The elementary school will have three grades with four sections. The certain grades haven't been determined yet, he said.

This would mean class sizes of 27 per grade if grades K-2 were four sections, Chiodo said. It would mean classes sizes of 24-25 for grades 3-4, he said. If it were reversed, there would be about 30 students for grades 3-4.

Looking at this year's enrollment numbers for the middle school, next year's fifth grade would have 29 students, sixth grade would have 26, seventh grade would have 25 and next year's eighth grade would have 28. Grades five and six already have four sections, Chiodo said.

The elimination of the reading and computer positions would mean that math teachers would likely take on some of the computer teaching and regular education teachers would take on some of the reading position, Chiodo said.

The proposed administrator reduction would mean that Century School would have a principal and an assistant principal for K-8.

"As far as how the duties are distributed, as far as how the face time is distributed through both ends of the building ... has yet to be determined," Chiodo said.

Duties will need to be spread out and cooperation will be needed.

"I'm not even going to suggest that it's going to be easy but it's not going to be easy to have 27 kids in a class, it's not going to be easy to inherit math teachers who have to do some computer skills. None of this is easy," he said.

The two physical education and health positions will have to be absorbed by increasing class sizes with the remaining section.

As far as the non-replacement of a German teacher, administration is looking at adding sections of Spanish or adding a section for German II students, Chiodo said. Part of the consideration included looking at which language is more universal, he said.

"Because of bumping and so-forth and so-on, at this point, you have to let that play itself through," Chiodo said. "They all have rights within the scope of their particular contracts, rights within the scope of state statutes."

There will be some movement until the next board meeting. At that meeting, an announcement will be made of who will be put on un-requested leave.

At the next board meeting, the school board will need to make a decision on the proposed reductions. Also, Chiodo will present about $100,000 in additional cuts to non-certified areas such as transportation, co-curricular and technology. Those cuts will not include staff.

"Our attempt is to have some balance going into next year," Chiodo said.

Park Rapids is not the only school facing budget cuts.

"It's a statewide issue," Chiodo said. "I don't know if I find comfort in being like everyone else but in the same token, that's just what's happening, that's just what's going on."

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