by Mike Knaak
The Sartell-St. Stephen school board will try for a second time to plug a $1.3 million deficit in next year’s budget when the board meets Monday, April 15, in St. Stephen.
On April 8, the board failed to approve a list of proposed budget cuts and revenue increases presented by school administration on a 3-3 vote.
Parents opposed to cutting one position from the district’s Academic Extensions program for students in kindergarten through second grade convinced three board members to vote against the list of cuts.
The need for cuts and increased revenue comes after voters rejected an operational levy last fall.
During a school board work session April 11, the board discussed other options for cutting $60,000 to maintain Academic Extensions at full staffing.
Although a formal vote can’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. “This is tough for all of us.”
Schwiebert said he discussed with staff other cuts to swap for Academic Extensions.
If the board approves, cutting one section will increase class size and result in a fourth-grade teacher reassigned to another grade with the staffing cut falling on a probationary position.
Even if the board approves the list of cuts, the district will still have to spend $500,000 from its General Fund to balance the budget.
The April 15 meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at the St. Stephen City Hall, 2 Sixth Ave. SE.