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Board eyes staff reductions

In a whirlwind session, the Park Rapids School Board met briefly Tuesday to hear an update on potential reductions to the district's budget.

Supt. Glenn Chiodo said he is continuing to work with principals about possible budget reductions.

"We don't have anything at this point in time that's hard and fast," he said.

He would like to present a list of reductions at the last meeting in March or first meeting in April. He wants the board to look at reductions in two meetings.

"It's always done in a two-meeting process so you have time as a board to hear and digest the potential reductions and, obviously, to field any questions you may receive from the public ... then react on it at the following meeting," Chiodo told the board.

He emphasized again that retirements play into the reductions and that can change on a regular basis.

The staff voted to waive $130,000 relative to staff development, something that has been done in previous years, Chiodo said. The money then goes to other expenses within the school district's budget. It has been helpful in previous years.

"Without it, who knows just how we would have been able to function," Chiodo said.

Chiodo said he thinks there will be less state funds coming to Park Rapids this year, despite what Gov. Tim Pawlenty says.

Business manager Carol Hutchinson said that the state aid is now paid at 90 percent during the school year and 10 percent in the summer. That could change to 80/20, she said.

"We'll more than likely have to increase our aid anticipation loan ... with high cost interest," she said.

And, there will be significant tax shifts, Hutchinson said.

"The language is way too complex to figure out the dollars at this time," she said.

But it could be significant.

Chiodo emphasized that it's a statewide issue and is not just Park Rapids.

"We have to try to figure out how are we going to compensate for that," Chiodo said.