"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Online Edition
Saturday, December 10th, 2016
Volume ∞ Issue ∞

FC Board looks at budget cuts, places five teachers on UAL

Sat, Mar 28th, 2009
Posted in Education

Budget cuts were a major item of discussion for the Fillmore Central School Board at their Tuesday, March 24 meeting. Ideas for reductions have been gathered from staff, board members and administration, and Superintendent Myrna Luehmann presented several ideas for possible cuts.

According to Luehmann, the Budget Committee's goal was to identify cuts of up to five percent in order to be prepared for possible reductions in funding from the state as they deal with their budget deficit.

"The federal stimulus money may come into play," said Luehmann, explaining that the governor will be using that money to backfill cuts that were made in education.

"I think we need to seriously look at five percent," said Luehmann.

The committee identified reductions totalling $262,000. Declining enrollment alone will mean a loss of $100,000 in revenue for next year.

"The bottom line is that we have to do something," said Luehmann. "We try to stay away from academics as much as possible. We have our work cut out for us."

A public meeting will be held in the high school media center on April 14 at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend and express their ideas on how the budget can be reduced. No decisions on cuts will be made by the board that night.

In anticipation of budget cuts, the board approved a proposal to place five tenured teachers on Unrequested Leave of Absence. The teachers are Jill Eerdmans, Vicki Eide, Frank Tribon, Jackie Whitacre and Dennis Peterson. Luehmann explained that this is the first step, and everything depends on budget decisions.

Also in relation to the 2009/10 budget, the board passed a resolution for the amount of OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) funds they will be receiving for the next three years. The bonds sold will be used to pay retiree health insurance benefits. Some of the money can also be put into the general fund. The funds totalled more than $300,000 over three years.

Custodial Proposal

Head of Maintenance Blaine Moe approached the board with a proposal to bid out custodial work to a private contractor, as was done in the past.

Moe would set up a company to bid on the contract and would hire the crew that now works for the district and start his own company. He is confident that he would have the lowest bid, and that he could save the district around $15,000 a year.

"I'm not afraid of bidding out," said Moe. "Most places only do cleaning and not maintenance."

The facilities committee had already heard the proposal and voiced some of their concerns. Moe addressed the concern of the district losing some control, since the employees would all be working for Moe. He said the two-year contract would have a 90-day dismissal clause they could implement if dissatisfied.

Moe also feels that he can get equipment and supplies at a cheaper cost and pass on those savings. The majority of the cost savings would be due to the fact the school would not have to pay the employees their PERA benefit. That alone would save about $10,000 a year.

Board member Ross Kiehne asked Moe why he was making this suggestion. Moe answered, "I don't want to see the school go backwards, and there's no way we can do what we do and cut back on hours. I have a passion to save the district money."

Moe also explained that as his business grew and expanded to other places, he would remain at Fillmore Central and hire managers for other locations.

Board member JohnTorgrimson had concerns about changing a system that is working really well right now. The district did not have a good experience with the previous company they worked with, Marsden.

"The only difference between Marsden and this is Blaine," said Torgrimson. "I have great confidence in Blaine, but if something happens to him, we would be right back where we were."

Luehmann explained that the district is a little "gun shy" after their bad experience. She added that the manager is the key to success, and is something they didn't have with Marsden. She recommended sending the issue back to the Facilities Committee to make a recommendation.

Board member Deb Ristau said the district didn't lose employees when they lost Marsden, and wouldn't be likely to lose them if something happened to Moe. "If it's cutting $15,000 without affecting the kids, we should look at it," she said.

Craig Britton agreed. "I'd like to dive into it a bit more," he said.

Facility Committee

Britton went over the feasibility study done on the heating system at the middle school. They found that the steam system is very old, and very inefficient. According to Britton, the current system runs at 20-30 percent efficiency, where a new one would be closer to 80-90 percent. There were also some air quality issues, and some rooms had carbon dioxide levels above standards.

"The bottom line is we need to do something," said Britton. He explained that it would cost around $1.9 million to replace the boilers and piping, install new controllers and dehumidifier units. The issue, of course, is the funding.

Luehmann explained alternative facility bonds, which is one option the school has. It is a one-time use bond per site, and now would be a good time to use it. The savings in energy would be used to pay off the bond, and Luehmann said it is a much better deal for taxpayers with a large project.

Art Proposal

The board approved an art project that will permanently change the aesthetics of the inside of the high school building. Art teacher Jason Detert said the project would involve working with artist Karl Unnasch on an iron pour project, which would involve students designing and constructing a mosaic pattern. The students will take a field trip to St. Charles to see the iron poured into their designs. Each student will have their own tile to add to the mosaic, and the final project would be permanently installed on the wall of the stairway going up from the varsity gym to the senior hallway.

"This is an amazing opportunity," said Detert. "It's very complicated and in-depth. The students will be able to work with new materials. It would be great for the school, and improve the art program."

There will be no cost to the school, as all of the funding will come from grants and donations.

Other business

• The 2009-2010 will start on September 8 after Labor Day.

• The board approved an updated rental policy for using school facilities and equipment. •

No Comments Yet. Be the first to comment!

Your comment submission is also an acknowledgement that this information may be reprinted in other formats such as the newspaper.