Barnum School Board cuts staff to ease deficit

In March, the board decided to cut several staff positions in the face of a $750,000 deficit.

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The Barnum School Board eliminated staff positions at its March 17 meeting to ease a $750,000 deficit.

The board voted to eliminate four full-time teachers in 2021: an elementary teaching position, a math teacher, a physical education teacher, as well as a media specialist position. Furthermore, the board voted to eliminate two paraprofessional positions, a clerical position, a half-time Spanish teacher, a one-third time science teacher and a half-time custodial position.

The board also voted to cut three elementary lunch/recess supervisor positions, a high school detention supervisor and a high school lunch supervisor.

“The elementary school will be going from 18 sections to 17 sections,” school board member Colleen Fetters said. “Administration and teachers are working on solutions to lessen negative impact on our students with one less section.”

The board considered class sizes and offerings at the high school level when deciding which positions to eliminate, said Mike McNulty, Barnum superintendent.


Greg Campbell, Barnum High School principal, is working with principals from Moose Lake and Willow River to share upper level courses and staff.

“Since our three schools are in close proximity, we principals continue to look at creative ways to share resources for some of our lower density courses in a way that makes sense fiscally for each school,” Campbell said.

Lower density courses are classes with fewer students. They include electives such as Spanish III, college writing, calculus and computer science.

The board cut the district's sports and activities budgets by 20%, reducing some activities, Fetters said.

The Barnum School Board is waiting to see what kind of impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the community, as well as the district's budget, before taking further action, McNulty said. The district closed school to comply with Gov. Tim Walz's order, and educators are working with students on distance learning. Furthermore, the district is also delivering meals.

"The greater impact may be on how education is delivered as the norm has changed, but there are many variables,” McNulty said. “The bigger picture, do what is right — the best you can with what you have.”

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