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Paynesville Press - May 30, 2001

Aide time added due to increased federal aid

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Area School District will receive $40,000 more in Title I aid next year than it received this year, which will provide for more instructional assistant time in the school system.

As part of the district's budget reductions, the school board voted to make the instructional aide programs self-sufficient: the amount of time and positions will be contingent on the amount of special education and Title I funds the district receives each year.

Last year, the school district paid more than $52,000 for instructional aides out of the district's general fund.

A plan presented to the board and approved at the end of April cut three positions and reduced most of the assistants from 6.25 hours per day to five hours per day. "We did make the Title I budget self-sufficient based on what we got last year," elementary school principal Todd Burlingame told the board last Tuesday, May 22.

Since then, the district has been informed that next year's Title I entitlement will be $40,000 greater. This extra money from the federal government allows more to be spent on instructional assistants with no effect on the district's bottom line.

The board approved a new plan last Tuesday that reinstates one position and restores the Title I assistants to 6.25 hours per day. Burlingame said he promised the staff at the time of the cuts that more money coming in would result in more working time for them.

"The instructional assistants and the staff were happy to hear the news," Burlingame explained. Staff and students, he added, will benefit from the restored hours.

In the future, Burlingame plans to wait for the district's actual entitlements before making changes to the staff.

But cuts and additions could become a yearly ritual as the district keeps the program self-sufficient, spending only the money that it receives. "That's the way it has to be," said Pat Flanders, school board chairman.

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