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BEA discusses cuts at work session

By Staff | Mar 29, 2020

Three girls get on a BEA bus to get their bagged lunches at the stop in Delavan last week.

The Blue Earth Area School Board held a work session on Thursday, March 19, to continue discussing the district budget.

But first, superintendent Mandy Fletcher provided an update on the COVID-19 situation.

“As you know, on Sunday morning, March 15, we learned of the plans to close all Minnesota schools by Wednesday, March 18,” Fletcher said. “The quarter ended on Monday at BEA and that was the last day the kids were in school. Since then we have been working on a long-distance delivery plan.”

Fletcher also explained BEA would continue to provide breakfast and lunch for district students.

“We are delivering meals to the five communities in the district,” she commented. “We have buses going to Frost, Winnebago, Delavan and Elmore, In Blue Earth the meals are given out on the south side of the K7 building, outside of Door N.”

All meals are distributed between 9 and 9:30 a.m. and breakfast and lunch are distributed at the same time, according to Fletcher.

“I also want to thank Bevcomm for their donation of $3,000 to purchase additional mobile hotspots for students to use if they do not have access to the Internet,” Fletcher remarked. “This will help if we begin distance learning.”

The board then moved on to discuss budget issues.

“We have been talking a lot about the importance of social/emotional learning,” board member Frankie Bly stated. “And I worry about the message we send if we eliminate positions of the people who are involved in providing that.”

The report by Baird’s School Business Solutions Team, which was presented at the last work session, also came up for discussion.

“I think their proposal of a systemic approach is necessary as we continue working on the budget,” board member Stacey Beyer said.

Board member Kyle Zierke also commented on the report.

“I think they did a great job of presenting our district’s situation and how we compare to other districts,” Zierke said. “Sometimes you have to rip the band-aid off. This is hard but it has to be done.”

Board member Susie Rosenau also offered her thoughts.

“My recommendation is to go with the proposals they (Baird) made” she commented. “We have a problem and we need to fix it.”

The block schedule then became the topic of discussion.

The question was raised if there was enough time to implement a change to a seven-period schedule before the start of the next school year.

High school principal Greg Ewing, who was participating in the meeting remotely in order to practice social distancing, said moving to a seven-period schedule would involve removing some programs.

“We would need to look at the current credit requirements of the students and make sure we could still fulfill those requirements if we changed the schedule.” Ewing explained.

Because this was a work session and not an official meeting, no action was taken.

“I think you have made a statement cuts need to happen,” Fletcher said. “The question is how much and where do we make those cuts?”