Menahga School Board appointee Helen Lehto took the oath of office at a special meeting Wednesday, Feb. 24, then the board discussed potential budget reductions.

Superintendent Kevin Wellen said final decisions will need to be made at the regular meeting on Monday, March 15.

Wellen noted that the number of licensed staff reductions has declined from 11 to nine because there is interest in the early retirement incentive.

If the district goes to three sections at every grade level, Wellen continued, then four K-6 teachers, three 7-12 grade teachers, one physical ed teacher and one music teacher should be cut.

“This discussion is already happening with those who are at risk of not being renewed. This is not going to be a surprise to anyone, but in April it will be formal,” he said.

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He also said the district anticipates a retirement of a custodian, “which would mean that we would still save $32,000.”

Generally, one cook leaves, he continued, so the district would not replace that person. “Similarly with bus routes, we’d look at absorbing them if someone were to resign or retire,” Wellen said.

With other proposed cuts or delayed purchases, the district would save approximately $990,000.

At the request of the board, Wellen shared the costs of sports and extracurricular activities. Total costs are $277,229, or an average of $660 per participant. Wellen said the cost is only 3 percent of the district’s entire budget.

If the district charged an average participation fee of $50, Wellen said it would only generate between $7,000 and $11,000, since there would be scholarships and family caps. If students were to leave the Menahga School District for other schools that have activities, Wellen said the district would lose approximately $10,000 per student.

In other business, the board did as follows:

  • Approved the principals' 2019-21 master agreement, with salaries of $96,000 for 2019-20 and $98,880 for 2020-21.

  • Approved the purchase of 50 Chromebooks, a cost of $14,500, for one-to-one technology for fourth graders. The vote was 3-1, with Lehto opposed. Board chair Andrea Haverinen did not vote, as she needed to temporarily step away from the meeting.