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Bemidji School Board: Potential adjustments in programs and positions on agenda

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The Bemidji School Board will consider potential reductions and additions in Bemidji School District programs and positions Monday night.

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The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the Bemidji High School Media Center. The potential adjustments are among several items on the meeting agenda.

The district faces a deficit of about $2 million from overspending last year and projected overspending this year.

Superintendent Jim Hess said earlier this month 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 school, middle school 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 a series of special meetings in March and April, the board reviewed a variety of options to reduce the district's budget for next year.

The options include ways to reduce staff at the elementary school, middle school and high school levels; in alternative programs; and in other areas of the district.

The board also reviewed proposals for budget adjustments related to middle school and high school activities. Some of the proposals would increase revenue while others would decrease expenses.

Listening session

The board's monthly listening session will be held from 5:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Monday in the BHS Commons. Board members John Pugleasa and Ann Long Voelkner will be available to visit with the public.

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