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New bus contract a savings for financially-strapped school

There was good news and bad news on the school financial front, as the Perham-Dent School Board discussed money matters April 6.

On the good news side, the bid from the local bus company came in more than $130,000 below the second bidder. In addition, it appears the bid for the 2009-10 school year will be almost $40,000 lower than it was this year. Bauck entered the winning bid, at $771,687.

The only other bid received by the school board was from Minnesota Central School Bussing, at $904,000.

The bad news is that the board voted to cut seven teaching positions. The cuts weren't made by name, but rather by position.

On the list were one English as a Second Language teacher, one special ed position, an elementary teacher, a gifted and talented program teacher, one math instructor and a language arts teacher.

In subsequent board actions, English As a Second Language teacher Kay Peloquin was placed on unrequested leave. Superintendent Tamara Uselman reported that there is not adequate state funding to continue the program in Perham.

Terminated was untenured English teacher Soleil Palubicki.

The board also accepted the resignation of gifted and talented teacher Patricia Hamann.

School administrators are still nervously awaiting the final actions of the Minnesota State Legislature.

A State Senate plan is to reduce funding by 7 percent--but replace about half of the cut with federal economic stimulus money. Meanwhile, a State House plan calls for schools to borrow money for the coming year to make up for the shortfall.

The governor's plan calls for an increase of $29 per student.

School exploring shared services with Perham city; other schools

With all schools facing deep budget cuts, there have been steps taken to explore ways to share services--including an informal meeting last week with officials from the Perham, Frazee, New York Mills and Pelican Rapids schools.

Another creative approach may come through sharing services with the city. Perham City Manager Kelcey Klemm suggested that the Perham School Board and the Perham City Council hold a joint meeting. Tentatively, that session is set for 6 p.m. on April 22.

No specific plans were generated at the meeting of school officials, reported Perham School Superintendent Tamara Uselman, but ideas were discussed--such as sharing business managers.

"We want to look at possibilities of sharing drive as many dollars as possible into the classroom," said Uselman.

One outcome of the meeting was that the Lake Country Service Cooperative, which serves many schools in the region, will set up a task force that will meet monthly to explore potential shared services.