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home : news : news September 30, 2014

3/14/2013 11:58:00 AM
It's simple math; 4-day budget is North Branch's reality

The North Branch School Board agreed to submit an application to extend the four-day week educational schedule. Application materials must be sent into the Commissioner of the MN Department of Education shortly to be considered for a no-Monday calendar extension.

North Branch School Board met in special session March 7 to look over budgetary impacts of moving back to five day weeks versus continuing the four-day schedule. The decision boiled down to the question of whether district resources will go into funding district operations or into instruction.

Director of Finance and Personnel Randi Johnson told the Board members (Kirby Ekstrom absent) that going back to five day weeks would necessitate reduction of teaching staff while adding some support staff for operations increases. The North Branch district has saved about $250,000 annually in the three years it’s been on no-Monday weeks. There’d be costs with gearing up for what is the equivalent of mobilizing 23 more days of school. Bus and transit services, custodial and energy budgets would increase. The Board also heard there are considerations with class size in a four versus five day schedule.

Next year’s staffing adjustments, based on the four and five day budgets, will bring either more students into certain rooms or reduce the number, depending on ages of pupils enrolled and use of certain courses. In a nutshell, the Board heard four day weeks will result in reduction of class size in all but three grade levels. Five day weeks don’t have the same positive impact, because instructional staff face cuts when additional costs come on-line adding Mondays back in.

The North Branch School Board will hold a public hearing on the 2013-2014 budget tonight at 6 p.m. (March 14) and then go into regular session following at 7 p.m. The budget needs to be adopted by the end of the state fiscal year, which is June 30. The Board plans to act on the budget a couple months before that (hopefully this month yet) so staff can receive adequate notice, etc. Even under the four day scenario-- if the state okays the application to extend-- North Branch is looking at cutting three positions in district office and Brooker Building personnel; and due to enrollment decline, dropping a 1.5 fulltime equivalent post at Sunrise River Elementary. A half-time math teacher at the middle school can be cut due to course re-alignments, and almost one fulltime equivalent (hours) of instruction at the high school, spread over a couple courses.

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