Bemidji Area Schools projects roughly $260,000 savings after program, position adjustments
Human Resources Director Jordan Hickman noted that adjustments at BHS and at the elementary level result from the district’s budgetary shortfall, licensure requirements and shifting enrollment.
BEMIDJI — The Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education conducted business bright and early Thursday morning at its rescheduled regular meeting, during which the board approved reductions and additions in programs and positions throughout the district for the upcoming school year.
District Human Resources Director Jordan Hickman noted that adjustments at Bemidji High School and at the elementary level result from the district’s budgetary shortfall, licensure requirements for teaching positions and shifting enrollments throughout the district.
Between reductions and additions at BHS and at the elementary level, the district would expect savings of $262,580. This results from $759,419 in reductions and $496,839 in additions.
Hickman spoke in terms of full-time equivalents, or FTEs, which are a measure of an employee’s scheduled hours divided by the employer’s hours for a full-time workweek.
For example, a full-time employee working 40 hours a week would be a 1.0 FTE, while a part-time employee working 20 hours a week is a 0.5 FTE.
The 1.25 FTEs reduced at Bemidji High School across mathematics, business education, Spanish and social studies results in salary and benefit cost savings of $124,055.
On the flip side, BHS will add 1.67 FTEs totaling $164,856 across physical education, developmental/adapted physical education and French based on student interest for these programs during registration.
“(Program reductions) are driven by registration changes and our opportunity to eliminate some of the overloads that have been in place under the four-period day,” Hickman said. “(French) is a new offering for our students at Bemidji High School and there was interest expressed … at a level that would support a full-time position.”
At the elementary level, 4.5 FTEs will be reduced between Lincoln and Northern Elementary positions along with elementary specialists. One FTE totaling $112,024 will then be added to J.W. Smith Elementary.
Superintendent Jeremy Olson added that efforts made by the district to reduce its expenses have always focused on reducing positions rather than people.
“Positions that are being non-renewed or eliminated are positions in which we either have resignations currently or a vacant position,” Olson said. “We’ve got really great people in our district and we wanted to keep our great people … We are looking to reduce positions that did not have people attached to them.”
Apart from the budget discussion, the board unanimously voted to give notice to 22 probationary or tier one teachers of their terminations effective June 1.
Hickman relayed that the district must post these positions for 60 days in an attempt to recruit teachers with either a tier three or tier four license before considering the rehire of a tier one-licensed teacher after July 1.
“There is a possibility that some of these (terminated employees), I might be bringing back to you in July to be rehired,” Hickman addressed the board. “If we’re unable to recruit a candidate who has a tier three or tier four license, (a tier one employee) may be offered employment.”
The board also approved summer hours for Extended School Year, a state-mandated program conducted for students with disabilities.
“These students need extended school year services during the summer months to prevent serious regression of academic and social gains achieved during the school year,” Special Education Director Alexis Wilde said.
The full meeting can be viewed on the Bemidji Area Schools YouTube channel.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 15, in the district board room.