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ELC cuts budget by $459,561

By Staff | Apr 26, 2011

The Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District Board of Education Monday night cut $459,561 from the fiscal 2012 budget in anticipation of $550,000 in cuts needed to maintain the district unspent balance.

In presenting a list of recommended cuts, Superintendent Dick Magnuson said about $274,000 of the total was in ARRA (federal stimulus) and Education Jobs money the district won’t get next year with the other $376,000 coming from other areas of the budget.

Magnuson said the cuts were necessary in lights of a number of unknowns:

n The allowable growth rate set by the legislature (now at zero percent).

n The district settlement with the teachers’ union.

n The amount of savings from this year.

Following are the savings realized from the cuts.

n ARRA funds – reading position eliminated, $51,494 saved; Title I teacher’s assistant, $9,553; half-time special ed, $26,817.

n Education Jobs Bill – quarter-time vocal music, $9,682; elementary teacher’s assistant, $12,014; technology technician, $14,431; high-school study hall monitor, $13,397.

n Resignations – third grade, $35,144; fifth grade, $35,144.

n Support staff/programs – not filling maintenance vacancy, $32,000; central office reduced from .8 to .2, $21,000; reducing city bus stops and one route, $15,000.

n Program reductions – high-school multi-occupations course eliminated, $12, 686; reducing present nursing staff to half time, $61,469; reducing one guidance position, $38,100; offering drivers education summers only, $17,250; tech position, $43,580.

n Other options – absorbing elementary music position resignation, $10,800.

“This is not an easy meeting for any of us,” said Jodie Greig, board president. “We have spent a lot of time looking at a lot of information.”

Karla Lester, middle-school nurse, offered concerns about cuts planned in her program before the board took any action.

“I have deep concern for the health of our students and what might happen if we severely reduce our nursing staff,” Lester said, citing issues such as diabetes, pregnancies, anxiety disorders and food allergies, among others. Lester said due to the district’s high poverty rate, the school nurse is often the primary health-care provider students see and she also noted the impact of health and wellness on learning.

Lester said comparing student-to-nurse ratios between ELC and other districts “is not a valid comparison” due to the unique health issues ELC students face. She also asked which employee the board planned to absorb, saying she believed students’ health and well-being would be reflected by budget cuts.

Without the ARRA or Education Jobs funding, the board agreed positions paid for with those funds.

In program reductions, the board first decided to eliminate the multi-occupations course due to enrollment.

Discussing the nursing cuts, Magnuson offered numbers from comparable districts. He said Le Mars with 2,000 students has two school nurses, MOC-Floyd Valley 1,300 with one nurse, Spirit Lake with 1,200 students and one nurse and ELC three nurses with 1,500 students.

“If you look at other school districts we look like we’re overstaffed,” Magnuson said.

Board member Michelle McCoy was concerned if a teacher did not know what to do if a students should have a heart seizure and board member Molly Jo Anderson asked if there were any other areas where money could be saved.

“It’s a matter of staying solvent or not staying solvent,” said board member Don Schiltz, saying he would prefer going with Magnuson’s recommendation to reduce the three nursing positions to half time, which the board approved.

The board also approved the cuts in guidance and technology and to make drivers ed a summer-only program.