Duluth School Board Makes "Painful" Cuts, Many Directly Affecting Students

By KBJR News 1

March 20, 2012 Updated Mar 20, 2012 at 10:22 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - The Duluth School Board voted tonight to increase class sizes to help close the $4.8 million budget gap, instead of cut more than $1.5 million worth of elementary specialists.

The district will still be cutting more than 25 positions, and that's because of the cuts the district will be making as it increases class sizes, cuts middle school music itinerants, and reviews classes with fewer than 25 students.

Other cuts the district is making include legal expenses, transportation, restructuring the middle school day to six periods, reducing special services, and limiting 9th graders to taking only six classes in their day.

The Habitat program alternative and Kinder Korner also got cuts.

One area board members asked more about was why they are keeping their lobbyist instead of keeping a teacher.

The superintendent says the lobbyist has saved the district millions in some instances.

"Last year, when we were talking about integration funds, we went from what the conversation was going to be zero, to keeping our funds again, which is, well there's two million dollars right there, and in that instance, it's money well spent," said Superintendent Bill Gronseth.

Some of the areas spared from cuts include elementary specialists, a proposal limiting all high schoolers to six classes, as well as funding for middle school athletics.

Two things board members continue to stress for next year with another expected deficit are a referendum for a tax levy is very likely, as well as looking at salaries and benefits for teachers, as it is a negotiations year next year with the union.

When it comes to transportation, the district was able to streamline routes to get $180,000 in savings.

The scheduling of school start and end times will be staying the same as this year.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike