Proposed Budget Cuts Hitting Closer to Core for Duluth Public Schools Board

By KBJR News 1

Proposed Budget Cuts Hitting Closer to Core for Duluth Public Schools Board

March 6, 2012 Updated Mar 6, 2012 at 10:53 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Music, athletics, and elementary specialists are just a few of the areas that could get sliced and diced as the Duluth Public School Board is looking at how to close the projected $3.8 million budget gap.

Tuesday administration laid out its first draft of proposed cuts for fiscal year 2013.

Board members say with each passing year, the cuts keep getting closer to the core of classrooms, and many described the annual process of making cuts as painful.

Board members said, the list of proposed cuts was not easy to digest.

It included more than a million dollars of cuts to elementary specialists, restructuring the middle school day from seven to six periods, reducing middle school music itinerant, athletics and activities.

It also listed reducing zero hour staffing, the Habitat Program, and site administration.

Other cuts could include not filling a retirement, not renewing the contract to a lobbyist, no longer having a legal expenses during board meetings, reducing transportation costs by changing scheduling, reducing special services administrations, reducing middle school staffing allocation, reviewing all non-intervention classes with less than a 25 to one student teacher ratio, and making cuts to Kinder Korner.

After looking at the cuts, board members asked why changes like having employees contribute to health insurance and salary freezes did not make the chopping block.

"If I felt that we could move forward and get some traction on that conversation, I would propose it, but at this time I'm not confident that we would successfully be able to negotiate that," said ISD 709 Superintendent Bill Gronseth.

Gronseth said next year is a negotiations year and without any major changes there will be another deficit, so those kinds of changes may be further explored at that time.

There will be another board meeting on the proposed budget cuts next Monday.

School board members also talked about having a referendum in the future, but it would not be for the upcoming fiscal year.

However, many board members stressed if they want to curb continued deficits in the future, a referendum would a viable option.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike