School board makes $400,000 in cuts for 2011

Published on Thu, Feb 3, 2011 by By Jeremy Schwartz

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The Blaine school board made official nearly $400,000 in cuts for the remainder of the 2010/2011 school year at its regular meeting Monday.

The board unanimously approved the reduced education program, which contains $390,000 in budget reductions and adjustments, at its January 24 meeting. The reductions will mean less money for school, office and facilities maintenance supplies and reduced reserve funds for each of the district’s departments.

“I believe the [board’s] vote tonight will pretty much cover the worst case scenario,” district superintendent Ron Spanjer said.
The cuts are in response to the state’s plans to chop educational spending in order to close a $4.6 billion budget gap. The biggest chunk of the district’s spending reductions stems from the state’s plan to cut K-4 staff funding. Based on enrollment numbers, this means about $230,000 less for the district this school year.

The board only needed to approve the reductions that have to do with employment, such as the adjustments to substitute teacher salaries and assigning two substitute bus drivers to positions left vacant by two retiring full-time drivers.
The vote comes as board members and district staff are preparing a public information campaign on the $32 million bond initiative set for the April 26 ballot.

A four-page pamphlet explaining in detail what the bond would fund has been posted on the district’s website. Community presentations and campus tours are also planned.

State public disclosure commission guidelines prevent district staff, school board members and the superintendent from using district resources to directly support passage of the bond. A citizens’ committee was formed late last year and has been working to develop signs, flyers and media advertising in support of the bond.

“There’s really nothing [the district] can do but present the facts,” Spanjer said.

Ballots for the election will be mailed out around April 7.

The bond is intended to pay for extensive school facilities upgrades, including upgrades and additions to high school science and math, middle and elementary school buildings.

The bond would cost taxpayers about 35 cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. The owner of a house valued at $250,000 would pay about $87.50 more per year.

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