Cloquet School Budget NotesWe are in the time of year when, if school funding is not sufficient, we have to make school budget reductions. The following paragraphs list a few of the budget considerations and actions that the Cloquet School District is taking.
By: Ken Scarbrough, Superintendent, Pine Journal
We are in the time of year when, if school funding is not sufficient, we have to make school budget reductions. The following paragraphs list a few of the budget considerations and actions that the Cloquet School District is taking.
1. State Surplus. The February 2012 state budget forecast shows over a $300 million surplus. The good news is that it is not another deficit, and the state can pay school districts some of what it has borrowed from them. Cloquet schools, instead of only receiving 60 percent of our current year funding during this school year, will receive 64 percent. In other words, the state will now withhold $7.2 million in payments to the Cloquet School District instead of $8.0 million. This forecast also means that state legislators should not be considering the 50 percent withholding of payments for next year that was being considered had there been a worse economic forecast.
2. Ten Instructional Days. The school board has enacted the administrative recommendation to reduce 10 instructional days from the school calendar. This will more than meet minimum state instructional time requirements, and the school district should realize over $200,000 in savings in transportation and personnel costs. Principals will be working with their teachers to find ways to maximize instructional time during the days students are in school. Our principals, teachers, parents and students have shown that they can work hard to achieve excellence. This will be one more way that they will demonstrate learning excellence and the desire and ability to achieve great things.
3. Restructure Half-Day Kindergarten. The district has two of 11 kindergarten sections meeting half days. Buses have to pick up the morning section in the middle of the day to take those students home, while they also have to pick up the afternoon kindergarteners to take them to school. By restructuring these half-time kindergarten sections to meeting full days every other day and alternating Fridays, the school district can save over $100,000 in transportation costs.
4. Deficit Spending. The district is projecting a $1.2 million deficit next year, so additional budget reductions will have to be made. The goal is to reduce that deficit in half and dip into fund balance to operate schools next year.
Budget reductions are usually painful, and they always mean that we will be doing without some things that we have had in place. During last fall’s referendum campaign, possible budget reductions such as reduced instructional days were presented to our public to help them decide how to vote. Even though we are in some tough economic times, our citizens extended the current operating referendum. We are very grateful this was done, so our budget reductions would not have to be more severe. The second referendum failed, so now we have to plan to operate our schools without that increase in revenue to offset the lack of state funding. As we do this, know that we appreciate the hard work that our students, parents, school employees, and school volunteers are putting in to help our school district continue to be successful in preparing our students for the future.
What do you think?
Do you approve of the board’s decision? Why or why not? If you don’t approve, where do you think they should cut instead?
The Pine Journal will publish reader-submitted letters and columns on the district’s decision to shorten the school year in the March 29 issue. Email your thoughts on the shorter school year by noon March 27 to firstname.lastname@example.org