Column: Proposed cuts are on the table; please speak upOn Thursday, the school will host two public meetings on our proposed budget cuts for the 2008-09 school year. The meetings will be held at noon in the Foot Room at the Public Library and 7 p.m. at the Twin Bluff media center.
On Thursday, the school will host two public meetings on our proposed budget cuts for the 2008-09 school year. The meetings will be held at noon in the Foot Room at the Public Library and 7 p.m. at the Twin Bluff media center. We will review our plans to cut $500,000 from the budget and take comments from the public.
The cuts will impact the classroom, but we are looking for all areas, large and small, that will do the least harm to students.
State funding for education has not kept pace with normal inflationary costs. The Red Wing district has averaged .69 percent annual state funding increases for the past five years. School boards have no discretionary authority to increase tax revenues. Similar to our residents, the school has and will face large cost increases for fuel, supplies, utilities and health insurance. We are looking to reorganize some services and use retirements where we can to save on personnel costs.
The proposed areas and amounts for cuts are as follows:
. Elementary teaching staff — $53,000. The district does not want to increase class size. We will examine the schedule of special classes available to students and not offer some of these classes every year to every student.
. Middle school teaching staff — $75,000. This number will be finalized once the high school and middle school staff and student schedules have been developed.
. High school teaching staff — $50,000. This target will be reached through reducing sections that have the least registration of students.
. High school leadership and support — $50,000. Utilizing retirements, the high school will restructure its internal leadership arrangement.
. Special education — $100,000. As the number of children with special needs changes, the district will reduce personnel while still providing all mandated services and appropriate student-teacher ratios.
. Retirement savings — $82,000. This is the estimated savings based on personnel costs of replacing retirees.
. Support staff — $64,000. All support staff contracts are being reviewed and hours will be trimmed.
• Nursing — $31,000. We will reduce a position while still maintaining nurse coverage at each building.
. Middle school sports — $13,000. We will work with our community sports programs to absorb some middle school sports.
. Sports and activities — $10,000. In addition to the savings mentioned in middle school sports, we will trim expenditures in other sports and activities.
. Third party billing — $7,000. This is a complicated program of reimbursement that brings additional revenue to the district. The district will enter into a contract with the Goodhue County Education District to generate additional revenue.
. Stipends — $5,500. Stipends are provided to staff for some extra duties. We will make some reductions in this area.
. Community partnerships — $12,000. There are few areas where the school supports outside agencies that provide services to our students. We will look to reduce our contributions but still provide these services.
. Energy Savings — $7,000. The district has made many improvements that have led to energy conservation. We will retrofit fixtures this summer which will provide a net savings of $7,000 for the coming year.
. Summer maintenance — $1,000. The district must maintain summer maintenance service but can reduce some hours.
The total savings comes to $560,500. This exceeds the target because we need room to adjust these cuts based on the uncertainty of state funding and special education revenues and expenditures.
When finally approved by the board on April 21, we need to meet or slightly exceed our target of $500,000.
We welcome public input on our plan and will present more details on these cuts at the meetings Thursday.