by Mike Knaak
The Sartell-St. Stephen school board approved April 15 a list of budget cuts and revenue increases that fully fund the Academic Extensions program but increases fourth-grade class sizes.
The nearly $1 million in budget cuts and fee increases were needed after district voters defeated an operating levy last November.
On April 8, the board failed to approve a list of cuts that included reducing one position in the Academic Extensions program after parents objected to the cut. That vote was a 3-3 tie.
On April 15, the board voted 5-0 to approve the revised list. Board member Pam Raden was not at the meeting at St. Stephen City Hall.
During the board’s open forum session at the beginning of the meeting, veteran teacher Chad Krauel, who teachers fourth grade at Pine Meadow Elementary School, argued against increasing class size.
“When you have a smaller class size you can build up more relationships,” Krauel said. “When you put 29 to 30 kids in a classroom you can’t get to as many kids. It’s not the Sartell-St Stephen way.”
After the vote, board member Jeremy Snoberger said he was “disappointed” the board needed to increase class size.
“I wish we could make other choices,” he said, even though the increased class sizes still fall within the board’s guidelines.
During a school board work session April 11, the board discussed other options to maintain Academic Extensions at full staffing. Although a formal vote couldn’t be taken at a work session, board members focused on cutting one fourth-grade section.
Board members also discussed raising the parking permit fee at the new high school, cuts to supplies, negotiating fewer teacher work days and clerical staffing.
“I wish I could pull a magical solution out of the air,” Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert said during the work session. “This is tough for all of us.”
With the cuts for the 2019-2020 budget, the district still expects to tap the General Fund for about $500,000.
Here are the reductions and revenue increases approved by the board:
Change in routing contract
Reduction of two pm routes with bell time change
Opt-in busing grades 9-12
Reduction of supervisor of Building & Grounds
Reduction of district office clerical position
Reduction in contract for associate activities director
Administrative cabinet salary freeze (4 positions)
Reduction in overall budget
Activities fee increases
Facility use fee increases
Additional revenue: $150,000
Increase nonrefundable deposit
Instructional Technology reductions
Elementary 2.0 FTE
-Elementary total sections from 62 to 60 (fourth-grade section at Pine Meadow and first-grade section at Oak Ridge)
-Middle School 1.33 FTE
-Instructional Technology (.33)
High School – 2.0 FTE
-Instructional Technology (1.0)
-Districtwide .58 FTE
-Adaptive Physical Education
Noncertified support staff
-Elementary media aide (2.0)
-Elementary playground supervision (16 hours/day)
-Reduction of paraprofessionals (4.0)
-Sartell High School greeter (1.0)
-Sartell High School cafeteria supervision (4 hours/day)
Curriculum and nonpersonnel
-Reduction of sub costs related to meetings
-Reduction of building nonpersonnel budgets
The board has scheduled these future meetings.
Board work session, 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 6, District Service Center.
Board meeting, 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, Sartell High School Media Center.