NYM School board prepares for cuts
The New York Mills School District continues its preparation for budget cuts as the board Monday directed the administration to make recommendations for reduction in programs and positions.
Superintendent Todd Cameron told the board the district is looking what could be up to $300,000 in cuts next year, due in part because of declining enrollment. Cameron projects the district will finish this school year down 20-25 students from last year.
He presented some figures to the board, which did not act on or discuss possible cuts to specific areas or departments. On June 30, 2008 the district had an unreserved fund balance of $229,620. The projected balance in the same fund for June 30, 2009 is $76,761.
Looking ahead even further, which Cameron admits is difficult to predict, the unreserved fund balance would be about $136,000 in the negative on June 30, 2010.
Cameron told the board the administration the fund balance is a relative term. The district could carry a larger fund balance, ideally around $300,000, but to do that educational opportunities for students may suffer.
"Quality and service we offer in this district are extremely important to me," he said at Monday's meeting. "The quality of our school was built over generations and long before I got here. "We want good quality education for our kids."
Cameron will present to the board a first draft of potential budget reductions at the February meeting. The board is expected to make a final determination on cuts at the March meeting.
A community input open forum to discuss budget cuts and possible levy referendum next year will be held Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the performing arts center at the school.
Cameron encourages the community to attend this meeting.
"I want to give people an opportunity to hear, ask and provide input," he said. "Input from the community is very important to me."
Two elementary teachers submitted their resignations for board approval Monday. Third grade teacher Richard Wegscheid will retire at the end of the school year after teaching 34 years in the district.
"The school and the community of New York Mills have been very good to me, and I'm so grateful for this," Wegscheid wrote in his resignation letter. "New York Mills has been a perfect fit."
Marlene Boedigheimer, who teaches first grade, submitted her resignation from full-time teaching effective at the end of the school year.
"I've enjoyed my 30 years of employment with the New York Mills School District," she said in her letter. During her 30 years, Boedigheimer taught Title, assisted kindergarten sections in the classroom, taught their phy-ed, coached volleyball, basketball and track, taught summer rec, t-ball and games, and taught first grade.
"I survived it all and treasure the memories! I will miss the 'family' of personnel at District #553."
New York Mills social studies teachers Jason Boe and Jo Rudnitski gave a short presentation to the board on an American history grant they are involved with. The grant provides free history-related materials to 19 area teachers participating in the program. NY Mills has three teachers taking part in the opportunity - Boe and Rudnitski in the high school, and 5th-grade teacher Rita Askew. The grant is provided through Lakes Country Service Cooperative and provides an opportunity for participating teachers to get together monthly and develop lessons and best practices to use in the classroom.
The NYM teachers and students plan to participate in a national History Day on Feb. 24. (The Herald will take a closer look at the grant and how teachers are utilizing resources for the classroom, as well as the upcoming History Day activities to appear in the Feb. 19 issue.)
Heidi Dresser was named head girls track coach. JJ Weller took the job of elementary girls basketball coach.
FFA Day at the Capital.
The school board approved an overnight FFA trip for FFA Day at the capital Thursday, Feb. 26. The group will depart for St. Paul the night of Wednesday, Feb. 25.
The day will start with a brief meeting at 8 a.m. in the transportation building, followed by a meeting with the legislators. The students will then sit in on Senate and House sessions, as well as an afternoon program in the State Office Building. The group will return to Mills the evening of Feb. 26.
FFA funds will be used for cost of lodging.
The board approved an out of district bus request for two students to be picked up on Highway 75 in Wadena.