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BEA may cut $400K

By Staff | Apr 13, 2009

The numbers aren’t final, however, Blue Earth Area School District officials are proposing cuts of more than $400,000 for next year.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy and Alan Wilhelmi, fiscal services coordinator, presented a preliminary budget for 2009-10 during the school board’s workshop held Monday.

“We’ve tried to go through all areas,” says Brandsoy. “Eighty percent of our budget is salaries.”

The budget shows $13.2 million in revenues and expenditures of $13.5 million. That leaves a deficit of about $323,000.

Boardmember Dawn Fellows wanted to know if the budget reflected state funding cuts, estimated between 5 and 7 percent.

“We went with the idea that state general education revenue is flat at 0 percent, and there is no stimulus money involved,” Brandsoy says.

Staffing reductions make up a good portion of the cuts. About $283,000 is saved with several retirements.

Food service also would have a reduction of $44,000 due to aretirement.

Transportation plans to cut one bus route and reduce hours on two routes for a net savings of $11,600.

In total, staffing cuts amount to $491,000, but smaller additions of $82,000 bring the overall reductions to $408,990.

Because state aid and developing a budget hinges partially on student enrollment, the three principals were on hand to give reports.

Middle School principal Melissa McGuire says four sections will be needed for each grade 6-8 because of preliminary enrollment figures.

Elementary principal Kevin Grant says two sections may have four sections, while the rest would have three.

It will be at least a couple of weeks before officials have a firm hold on kindergarten numbers.

Grant says roundups must still be held in Blue Earth and Winnebago, and it isn’t unusual to see numbers shift higher or lower than the year before.

At the high school, principal Jack Eustice says enrollment will be up slightly, expecting eight foreign exchange students.

Eustice says there will be four sections for each grade of math, science, social studies and English.

“We’ve had tremendous response for anatomy and physiology. In industrial technology there’s been a reduction,” Eustice says regarding students signups.

There was good and bad news regarding the Project Lead the Way program, a new engineering class offered this year.

Eustice says incoming freshmen are interested in taking the class, but those who took it this year are not interested in taking the second section.

“It’s a matter of scheduling,” says Eustice. “That’s my gut feeling.”

He says when the students are juniors their schedule will allow them more offerings.

Brandsoy says it’s “very evident” that engineering is not for everyone.

“It’s still good they got that exposure,” he says.

Some boardmembers felt there should be better followup to see why students are not continuing with the engineering class.

“I would like to confirm that there is not another piece of the puzzle we are missing,” says boardmember Vickie Hanson. “Your gut says the problem is scheduling conflicts. I would just like to see if that’s right.”

Fellows says she’s concerned with how the business community would react to no second section being offered.

She says the businesses have been very supportive and helped in any way they could.

Bly agreed with Fellows that the business community should be thanked for their support and reassured the class is worthwhile.

“The second class wasn’t offered because of the scheduling for sophomores. We’re seriously looking at offering them that as juniors,” Bly says.