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Kingsland torn over budget


Fri, Mar 19th, 2010
Posted in Education

It was very clear that the Kingsland School Board wished there were other solutions to the problems associated with budget cuts and the hiring of administrative staff because of recent resignations. First, the principal and then the superintendent.

The board has been wrestling with these issues for several months now and members knew that some decisions had to be made immediately. The emotions ran high and members were torn between saving programs, hiring administration and presenting a balanced budget.

The first issue presented was the advertising for a replacement for Superintendent Darrin Strosahl. He had announced a few weeks ago that he was leaving and his resignation was accepted without comment by the board last night. There were thoughts from members to "wait for the next superintendent to look at changes in the administrative staff." Members revisited the options that have been discussed at several meetings and hoped for a solution that would pull them out of this issue that has generated so much emotion and indecision.

It was finally agreed that they would advertise for a full time superintendent and set the application deadline April 23rd at 3:00 p.m. They also decided to do the advertising with the assistance of the Minnesota School Board Association. They have a program costing $850 where they will come into the school and train the members on interview techniques, etc. Previously, the board had used the services of ADM, a private consulting company. That cost would be $5,000 plus expenses not to exceed $1,500. It was felt that in tight money times like this it would be better to accomplish this without a consultant. Board Chair Mitch Lentz said that many districts in the area have opted to do this themselves and they can learn from them.

It was also approved unanimously by the board to proceed with the principal-superintendent-dean structuring.

Clearly the board wanted the current administration to bring back recommendations on the cuts that will be needed to balance the budget. This would include the suggestions on the current shortfall of $70,000 and the expected cuts from the state that could possibly be 5 percent or $200,000. These cuts will be discussed at another workshop on Wednesday the 7th of April.

Superintendent Strosahl presented an idea to the board about saving money. He said that it would involve reducing the school calendar by seven days. It would result in making each day 15-18 minutes longer, and seven to nine minutes earlier five days a week. He said it could result in a savings of $10,000 a year, mainly in the area of bus schedules. The board will need to take the proposal under study and to act on the information before the request is approved by the Minnesota Department of Education.

The next meeting will be on April 19th and it would appear members will have a full plate of money issues to discuss then as well.

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