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$280,000 cut from Kingsland budget

Fri, Apr 24th, 2009
Posted in Education

"If we cut 280 thousand dollars more from the budget, this won't look like a school!"

Such was the comment of School Board member Kristin Beck at Monday's Kingsland School Board meeting during discussions surrounding the budget for next year. Discussion of the budget was moved higher in the agenda as Superintendent Darrin Strosahl explained that the Kingsland district, along with other districts in the state is in a serious situation. Reduced state funding of schools is still an unknown factor, that further cuts could be coming, as much as 7%.

"It is necessary to cut $280,000 from the budget now," said Board Chair Mitch Lentz "and the board needs to decide immediately where additional cuts need to be made." To balance the budget a total of $339,313 dollars needs to be cut, "and the board must make their recommendations this week", said Lentz.

The faces were solemn around the room and the tension was reflected in the faces of the Board Members. Initially no action was taken by the Board as they moved on in the agenda past normal housekeeping issues and then the public comment section.

The board room was packed with people, many of them voicing their opinion on the cutting of teacher Brit Ofstedal. Students and parents alike stepped to the microphone and voiced their concern that he was being let go and that the science program would suffer greatly if science is reduced from 2.0 teachers to 1.6. The Board listened as support was shown for Brit Ofstedal, but according to board policy no comments came from the board.

Each year the Board passes a Resolution Calling for Reductions & Discontinuation of Educational Programs & Positions. This was the meeting for that action, and at the top of the list was a Resolution Calling for the Termination & Non-Renewal of Non-Tenured Teacher Contract, Brit Ofstedal. The discussion came slowly at first but eventually the Board was into the question; "do we have to take action on this now?" "Why can't we wait?"

Superintendent Strosahl explained that "it is unfair to Ofstedal to delay in making a decision when he could be looking for another position."

That comment was echoed by Board Chair, Mitch Lentz. "This is the recommendation and the Board has studied the financial issues at a workshop last week." Said Lentz; "You need to make a decision!"

Ideas bounced back and forth around the table. "Can we cut some of the extra circular activities?" said Al Williams. Eventually the motion was made by Mike Zimmer to table the motion delaying the termination action of Brit Ofstedal. Kristin Beck voted yes along with Al Williams and Deb Dahl. Voting No in proceeding with the action was Mitch Lentz, Mike Zimmer and Peggy Merkel. At first it appeared the motion failed but Al Williams told the Chairman that it was a tie vote. Lentz apologized for the mistake and it was decided that the issue would be discussed at the next meeting.

The Board then preceded with other personnel issues. The retirement of Loren Hove in transportation was accepted. There were four resignations: Aaron Janssen as BBB Head Coach, Carrie Boerger Jr. High VB Coach, Denise Montgomery Jr. High Volleyball Coach, Kim Bly 9th Grade Volleyball Coach. Kersten Drees was terminated as SACC Assistant. New hires of 2009-2010 Head Coaches were made. For Football Trent Langemo, Volleyball Lisa Bicknese, Cross Country Brian Hoff and Del Bicknese in Girl's Basketball.

After hearing reports from the Activities Director and the Principals the attention turned again to the Budget and the need to make cuts. Superintendent Strosahl came back to the Board saying "You need to make a decision this week on cutting the budget. You need to make suggestions of where you think cuts should be made." Mitch Lentz agreed saying "if you don't take action tonight, you need to make the recommendation by Wednesday."

Again, a hesitancy by members, asking "where can we cut?" by Al Williams. "It will only get worse." From Mitch Lentz. "Let's each put in a dollar for the lottery" observed Kristin Beck.

After several minutes of discussion the Board decided to approve making the recommended cuts from the Superintendent totaling $280,000 with the understanding there might be additional cuts depending on final action from the Legislature.

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