Bemidji School Board: More possible budget adjustments explored
The Bemidji School Board continued this week exploring ways to reduce staff in the Bemidji School District, including alternative programs.
The board also discussed methods to increase revenue and reduce expenses related to middle school and high school activities, including sports, fine arts and academic teams.
At a special meeting Monday night, the board reviewed several options to reduce the district's budget for next year.
The district faces a deficit of about $2 million from overspending last year and projected overspending this year.
Superintendent Jim Hess said at an April 8 special meeting that the district is in this position because of the "historic underfunding" of education by the state Legislature.
To address the deficit, the board is considering $1 million in staff reductions, which is the equivalent to 18 full-time-equivalent employees, and $1.1 million in spending reductions.
In the area of staffing, the board is exploring ways to reduce "ratio" positions by 11 FTE at the elementary, middle and high school levels and "non-ratio" positions by 7 FTE throughout the district.
In general, "ratio" positions are funded by the district's general fund and "non-ratio" positions are funded by grants or special education funds, according to Jordan Hickman, director of human resources.
At the April 8 meeting, the board explored ways to reduce staff at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
On Monday night, the board looked at ways to reduce staff in alternative programs and other areas of the district.
In the alternative programs, administration proposed staff cuts at First City School and the Bemidji Youth Learning and Working program.
It was proposed to cut one full-time teacher and two paraprofessionals at First City School, which is located at Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center. Cutting the teacher position is projected to reduce the general fund by about $30,900 and cutting two paraprofessional positions is projected to reduce the general fund by about $25,300.
At ByLAW, it was proposed to cut one or two paraprofessionals. Cutting one paraprofessional position is projected to reduce the general fund by about $12,600 while cutting two paraprofessional positions is projected to reduce the general fund by about $25,300.
Administration also proposed the following:
E Cut three full-time teachers on special assignment in the areas of No Child Left Behind, technology integration and gifted and talented.
E Cut one full-time Developmental Cognitive Disabilities teacher at Bemidji High School.
E Cut one full-time teacher at the Bemidji Middle School Alternative Learning Program.
E Cut a 0.25 FTE work experience coordinator at Lumberjack High School.
E Cut a 0.5 FTE Safe and Drug Free Schools social worker.
The total reduction in the general fund from these potential cuts is projected to equal about $253,400.
The board also considered proposals for budget adjustments related to middle school and high school activities.
The target reduction for activities is $20,000 to $30,000.
Two proposals could increase revenue for activities.
One of these proposals would increase adult and student gate fees by 50 cents, which could raise $7,589.
The other proposal gives the option of raising middle school and high school activity fees by $5 or $10.
At the high school level, increasing activity fees by $5 could raise $7,885 while increasing activity fees by $10 could raise $15,770.
At the middle school level, increasing activity fees by $5 could raise $6,200 while increasing activity fees by $10 could raise $12,400.
Meanwhile, several proposals could decrease expenses.
Freezing uniform rotation for the 2009-10 school year could reduce expenses by $20,000, and reducing event workers by one at each home event could reduce expenses by $4,363.
Also, reducing transportation for BMS activities could reduce expenses by $5,000.
BMS could reduce the number of games on the road, possibly without reducing the number of games played, said Troy Hendricks, activities director and dean of students at BMS.
He said Saturday tournaments could be scheduled in which teams could play three or four games. He also said travel to practice sites could be reduced for some activities if there is a site available at BMS.
Additionally, reducing the number of activity offerings could reduce expenses by $10,634.
Director of Activities Harvey Crable said cutting four cheerleading advisers could reduce expenses by $7,242. Doing so would eliminate the BHS cheerleading program, he said.
He also said eliminating the volleyball, basketball and lacrosse intramural programs at BHS could reduce expenses by $1,306 and eliminating Science Olympiad at BHS could reduce expenses by $2,086.
April 20 meeting
Hess said at the April 8 meeting that the board will make budget adjustments in both staffing and spending at its regular meeting April 20.