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Paynesville Press - October 10, 2001

School Board Election 2001 (Part II)

Nine candidates are vying for four open spots on the school board. Throughout the month of October, the candidates and their positions on some key educational issues will be featured in the Press. The election is on Tuesday, Nov. 6, from noon to 8 p.m. in the west lobby at Paynesville Area Elementary School.

Today's Questions:
(1) How would you balance the school budget and create a positive general fund balance?
(2) What measures should the board take to deal with the impact of declining enrollment?

Don Kelm Don Kelm
(1) Before I could decide how to balance the budget, I'd have to look at our current budget, then I could tell you how I'd make it more profitable.

(2) Our board should look ahead at our priorities and make changes according to our declining enrollment.

Steve Olson Steve Olson
(1) I feel that this matter is a lot simpler than people would like to think. Simply put the budget needs to reflect the hard funding coming in, not what everybody wants to spend.

(2) Declining enrollment is directly proportional to income coming in, so everything has to be reduced accordingly. The same way everything was increased to accommodate the large classes of a few years ago.

Allen Schmidt Allen Schmidt
(1) This question has no easy answer. To balance any budget, expenses need to be less than income. I think it would be presumptuous to think I had all of the answers. The board needs to be impartial, look at all the facts, the opinions of the district, and be willing to make tough decisions.

(2) Being there is nothing we can do about declining enrollment, there should be a process developed to help keep the budget in line with its effects annually.

Sandy Spanier Sandy Spanier
(1) At this time, I don't have enough information to answer this question.

(2) Offer a variety of classes and activities to keep the children and families interested. Some advance classes would be a plus.

Tami Stanger Tami Stanger
(1) Until I can learn what expenditures have to come out of what fund and where money received has to be used when directed, I don't feel qualified to know the answer to this question. My first reaction is to say that, bottom line, we can't spend more than we receive.

(2) I believe our enrollment cycles. The graduating class of 119 is large for our district. The first and second grades are smaller for our district. We need to only count on an average class size enrollment and spend accordingly. We also need to take measures to keep children that reside in our school district attending our school.

Bob Stoneburner Bob Stoneburner
(1) For the short term, we have no choice but to support the proposed excess levy. For the future, the board must resolve to control spending, establish a budget, and operate within that budget. We must avoid spending money we don't have.

(2) Declining enrollment results in reduced state funding, at a rate of about $5,000 per student per year. The board needs to encourage enrollment of all school-age children in the district, and we must encourage all high school students to stay in school through graduation.

Mark Dingmann Mark Dingmann
(1) I would first review our existing budget and compare it with other districts of our size. Then, create a budget and stick to it with no unnecessary spending. I believe our general fund balance will take care of itself if we are aggressive with the budget.

(2) First of all, find the causes for the declining enrollment. We need to make our school more attractive for our students by offering them more learning opportunities such as electives, advanced placement courses, arts, music, etc. The board needs to listen to what our students and parents are asking for and try their best to accommodate these needs.

Deb Glenz Deb Glenz
(1) I believe in order to balance the budget we will need to do a combination of things, including: re-approving an excess levy referendum, prioritizing the district's financial needs, and deciding what we can live without.

(2) I believe we will have to put in place a plan of controlled areas of reductions, along with a plan to review those areas in which we can increase revenue, such as extracurricular and after-school activities.

Gary Heineman Gary Heineman
(1) My method for balancing the budget for this school district is through careful and selective spending. We have a good money manager in our present chief district administrator. I'll pay close attention to what he suggests.

(2) The options are few; spending must be reduced through careful prioritizing. When additional students were coming to our district, we needed to add staff; with declining enrollment, the opposite is necessary.

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