School's budget levy is still pending

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 3/31/98.

Classroom options, a new reading program and the 1998-99 school calendar were discussed at the Paynesville Area School Board meeting Tuesday night.

Superintendent Howard Caldwell, at the March 10 meeting, provided the board with several options for the 1998-99 school year dealing with class sizes and the number of sections per grade level.

Caldwell reminded the board that the budget levy is still pending for the 1998-99 school year as the custodial, support staff, and transportation contracts have not been decided.

ďThis year the budget exceeded the revenues,Ē Caldwell reminded the board. ďDecreased enrollment means decreased revenues for next year. The new excess levy does not affect the budget until the following year 1999-2000. That would give us $75 more per student than this year, which will help.

ďThe legislature is talking about additional revenue but we are not sure that will come about at this time. There are also other proposals in the conference committee which we cannot count on at this time,Ē Caldwell said.

Board member Pat Flanders called the revised budget figures shocking. ďAs long as I have been on the board, I have never seen the budget revision so drastic,Ē he added.

ďNext year the revenue will be down about $350,000 which will take us from feeling flush to not so flush. If this trend continues where will it put us in two to three years from now,Ē Flanders asked.

ďThe district went through major budget cuts eight years ago. Iím a strong advocate of not more than 20 students per class and we would need to be in dire financial straits before I would increase the size,Ē Flanders said.

ďI feel it is healthy for the board to absorb the overall picture. Personally, it is my intention to keep the first and second grade on the same track as they are presently on, five class sections,Ē Flanders added.

Board member Deb Glenz said she wants to talk with the fourth and fifth grade teachers before making a decision about class sizes. ďConsidering the make-up of the class, I donít know if four sections is workable,Ē she said.

Board member Fern Roberg has talked with the fifth grade teachers and they are comfortable with four sections.

Caldwell told the board another area of concern is the Title I program. ďWe are using all excess dollars available. Next year we wonít have as much to work with. We might need to gear down the program,Ē he advised. ďCompens-atory revenue could pick up some of the decline of Title I revenue.Ē

The board decided to table any decisions until their next meeting on April 14.

In other business:
• The board approved giving the students an additional vacation day in April. One additional day had been built into the school calendar as an emergency closing day. The board approved Thursday, April 9, giving the students a long weekend at Easter.

• The board approved the 1998-99 school calendar. No extra days are built into the calendar, thus enabling the district to stay within 175 student-teacher contact days. School will open on Sept. 2 and the last day of school will be June 2. However, if the Legislature withdraws the three extra school days, the calendar will be subject to change.

• Open houses were discussed at the different levels and the elementary and high school will hold their open houses on Monday, Aug. 31. The middle school will host an open house on Thursday, Sept. 10.

ďI feel there will be an advantage to the different nights allowing parents to spend more time at each location when they have students at all three levels,Ē Caldwell said.

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