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State’s woes hit BEA

By Staff | Jul 17, 2011

The shutdown of the State of Minnesota government could have some significant impacts on the Blue Earth Area school system, the BEA board learned last Monday night.

One big impact could be having a full staff in place on the first day of school.

“We are hiring a number of new teachers,” BEA Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says. “Some of these are recent college graduates and have applied for their teacher licensure from the state.”

While all of them had applied for the teacher license before the shutdown, not all have received notification of a license.

“This is a concern,” Brandsoy says. “State law says we can only have licensed teachers in the classroom.”

School board member Terry Cahill adds that it is also part of the local teacher contract.

“Our agreement with the teachers union calls for us to only employ licensed teachers,” he says. Brandsoy says there are other districts in the state in the same situation. “If the state shutdown continues, they (the state) will have to make some type of concession in this area,” Brandsoy says. There are many other areas that the shutdown is affecting. “Luckily the judge decided payments to schools are necessary items, so we will be getting our state aid payments,” Brandsoy says. He explained that the district will be getting the money on a 90/10 split. This means the school will receive 90 percent of the money now, with 10 percent held off until the end of the fiscal year. “The last couple of years this has been a 70/30 split,” Brandsoy says. “We believe the state will go back to the 70/30 split after they get back to work.” This means that while the BEA district will receive 90 percent of what they are owed now, they may have to give some of it back when the shutdown is over, returning to a 70/30 split. “There is even a possibility the percentage could become a 60/40 split,” Brandsoy says. “That could have a dramatic effect on many districts, causing them to be strapped for operating cash.” Eventually, a year from now, the districts should receive all that is due them. But until then, they may have some financial shortfall issues. Some other school related ventures affected by the shutdown includes Little Giants Child Care Center. “About 10 to 12 percent of the students receive assistance with tuition costs,” Brandsoy says. “With the shutdown, they are not receiving these funds.” Another item is the skills class held at the Faribault County Law Enforcement Center. Currently, Brandsoy reports, the classes are on not being conducted. Funding reimbursement comes from the state and it is one of the items considered non-essential. The BEA board took care of many other financial items at last Monday’s meeting. Among those were: • To proceed with the study to change the heating system in the elementary and middle school building. The cost of the study will be between $8,000 and $10,000. That cost will be covered by the full project should the board vote to proceed. If not, the cost will have to be covered separately. • Approved a $130,000 expense for computer network upgrade by Phenomenal Networks company. • Approved a new fee and ticket price schedule for the coming school year. Many of the fees remain the same, although the cost for school lunch was increased by five cents. • Reimbursement for school board members remain the same as they have for many years: $300 annual for board chair, clerk and treasurer; $50 per meeting; $70 per full day meeting.