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State to force schools to borrow

Faced with a looming cash shortage, Minnesota will pay state employees by withholding additional money from school districts.

The action was announced earlier this week, just as the Blackduck School Board met for a special meeting to discuss its budget and prospects for next year. The state's action will force many districts to make short term loans to meet their own payrolls and pay their own bills.

Blackduck Superintendent Bob Doetsch said some of the operating costs will be covered by the savings resulting from the switch to a four-day week, but the state has left schools with little choice. "First they cut us back and then they delay paying us even that."

She may have coined a word, but Blackduck High School Principal Wendy Templin called it "frustrational" as the board listened to possible faculty cuts and resultant class size increases anticipated in the 2010-2011 school year. "We don't know what to do."

Doetsch didn't identify individuals but listed half a dozen positions in high school, elementary and kindergarten classes where teachers or assistants may be eliminated. He said making all those cuts might save $244,000.

Pushed for alternatives for the board to look at, he said the budget proposed for next year would be available when the board next meets. That meeting date was then changed from Feb. 8 to Feb. 24, a day after the special public meeting at which public input will be sought.

That public meeting will be held at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 22, in the school's multi-purpose room.

Wednesday the board also directed the advertising for bids on the house that students constructed learning to work as carpenters. A minimum bid of $38,000 was approved.