Sartell-St. Stephen school board approves budget cuts

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by Mike Knaak

editor@thenewsleaders.com

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:

Transportation

Change in routing contract

Reduction of two pm routes with bell time change

Opt-in busing grades 9-12

Savings: $70,000

Administrative

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)

Savings: $180,00

Activities

Reduction in overall budget

Activities fee increases

Facility use fee increases

Savings: $15,000

Additional revenue: $150,000

Custodial

ProFields reduction

Savings: $15,000

Technology

Increase nonrefundable deposit

Instructional Technology reductions

Savings $6,000

Certified Positions

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)

-Classroom (1.0)

High School – 2.0 FTE

-Instructional Technology (1.0)

-Classroom (1.0)

-Districtwide .58 FTE

-Adaptive Physical Education

-English Learner

Savings: $350,000

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)

Savings: $222,500

Curriculum and nonpersonnel

-Reduction of sub costs related to meetings

-Reduction of building nonpersonnel budgets

Savings: $60,000

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.

Author: Mike Knaak

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