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NYM school board discusses budget, shared services

The New York Mills School Board passed resolutions Monday affecting staff and reducing next year's budget. The board voted to place two high school teachers on Unrequested Leaves of Absence.

Placed on ULA, which is essentially being laid off, are high school social studies teacher Carrie Jorgenson and high school Spanish teacher Jennifer Brunsberg. Last month the board approved the proposed lay-offs as part of the budget cuts announced at the March meeting.

The board Monday also approved a two hour reduction for one secretary position in both the elementary and high school offices by two hours. The elementary office and high school office will remain open for eight hours each day, for 208 days. The office hours will not change next year in either office.

There are still some funding questions up in the air, as whatever happens with the state budget will determine if additional cuts need to be made this fall. The state Senate has proposed a $272/pupil reduction in state aid to districts. The House plan to help balance the budget involves a tax shift, which would hold payments to school districts until the next year.

The district will take a look at enrollment, courses, sections and the final budget this summer after the legislature has adjourned to decide if any call backs for teaching positions will occur.

The school board held a work meeting/retreat on April 20 to discuss, among other things, the budget process and what worked well and what didn't as the district made cuts this year and last year.

Tim Kupfer, board president, suggested the idea of forming a committee which would include community members and teachers to work with the school board and be a part of the budget process for the district in the future. Talk of a levy referendum has not completely gone away as the board continues budget talks and possible cuts in funding from the state.

DuWayne Robers, board vice-president, suggested they get the budget committee ready and participating in the process so when the time comes to push for a referendum - possibly next year - market the idea and sell it to the community.

Districts discuss shared services

New York Mills is working with surrounding districts to possibly share services. Representatives from Battle Lake, Pelican Rapids, New York Mills, Frazee, Perham, and Lakes Country Service Cooperative met earlier this month to discuss ways in which dollars for the classroom could be maximized through finding more efficient, cost effective ways to deliver necessary services that do not touch the consumer, the student, parent, or community.

The group identified a number of necessary services and then narrowed the list to those that appear on the surface to be more practical to share. The list includes: director of technology, payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable, business management, AD and or AD secretary, food service director, transportation service with use of regional plan to avoid different buses in same neighborhood, superintendent, and library media director.

NYM School Board members Lapene Maijala and John Peeters attended the meeting.

School calendar

The board approved a motion to change this year's school calendar and reduce the number of student days to 172. Three snow days were built into the calendar this year and four full days were lost due to weather. Two days were made up over Easter break and one will be made up on Friday, May 29 (with an early dismissal that day). Staff will still work their 183 days. Board member Josie Hendrickx did not vote in favor of the motion. She expressed her concern about another lost day saying, "This is a lose situation for the students. I'm very concerned."

Graduation is May 29 and seniors will not report that day. Hendrickx suggested the other students go a full day on May 29, then make up the snow day the following Monday to clean out lockers. She argued there is still educational value in those 1.5 days. The board originally set the calendar at 173 days.