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Paynesville Press - Feb. 5, 2003

District #741 School Board

The Paynesville Area School Board took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

  • The board took no action on a request from the pool committee to use school land as a site for a community pool. The school district had been asked to decide if school property could be used by the end of January. The school district is not involved in the project, other than being asked if their property could be used.

    With limited space and with uncertainties like the airport zoning and the future route of Highway 23, a majority of the board members felt that it would not be prudent to allow school property to be used at this point. The board took no action on the request by the pool committee, which was meant to show this lack of interest in participating in the project. (See full story here.)

  • The board approved spending 0.325 percent of its basic foundation aid on staff development. This amounts to $20,000 for the 2002-03 school year.

    State law requires the district to spend two percent of its aid on staff development, but the district, due to its recent finances, has opted to spend less, including last year when staff development spending was frozen because the district was in statutory operating debt.

    Spending less than two percent requires the approval of the teachers, who also approved spending 0.325 percent or $20,000. Staff development funds will be split as such: $5,000 for district wide, $5,000 for grants, $3,900 for the elementary school, $3,400 for the high school, and $2,700 for the middle school.

  • The board reviewed the district's enrollment projections and its financial situation. The district still expects kindergarten classes to be in the neighborhood of 75 students. With graduating classes averaging close to 100 students for the next few years, declining enrollment should continue. No baby boom, no rapid development of the community, and no influx from open enrollment is expected to negate these enrollment declines, superintendent Howard Caldwell told the board.

    In 2003-04, the district expects to lose 22 students, in 2004-05 25 students, in 2005-06 25 students, and in 2006-07 30 students. To accommodate this loss of students (and the corresponding loss in revenue as the state pays schools based on the number of students), budget reductions will still be needed, Caldwell told the board.

    Caldwell kept the budget reduction recommendations in the district's statutory operating debt plan that it filed with the state. In 2003-04, this would mean $150,000 in budget cuts; in 2004-05, $150,000 in cuts; in 2005-06, $200,000; and in 2006-07, $230,000 in cuts. The district needs to continue to be careful when it comes to spending and to use retirements to cut staff where possible, said Caldwell.

    The administration is currently looking at budget recommendations for the 2003-04 school year in an effort to reduce the budget by $150,000. The plan, which Caldwell hopes to bring to the school board in February, would look at budget reductions, reinstatement of some programs that were previously cut, and at revenue enhancements.

    If the board is comfortable with the administration plan, they could approve it, said board chairman Pat Flanders. If not, they could open the process, even seeking public input. "Hopefully, there'll be some logic to it," said Flanders. "If we don't like the logic, then we can open it up."

  • The board approved lane changes for high school teacher Philip Carlson and high school media specialist Joan Nevitt.

  • The board approved a child care leave for elementary teacher Denise Landsteiner, who was already on general leave.

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