Swanville School Board continues cuts, raises fees to meet budget goals

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
[email protected]

As part of reaching its goal to cut $150,000 from the School District’s budget, the Swanville School Board approved cutting holiday pay for part-time paraprofessionals (paras) and cooks, saving $5,750, and inservice days for paras for a savings of $6,536.

This is in addition to cuts proposed in April — a social worker position; and positions in speech, English, math, elementary physical education, hours in social studies and science, and a Title I position and paraprofessionals, for a savings of $103,751.

The district will also discontinue its contribution for the family insurance plan for part-time employees, but will contribute toward a single plan. However, the seven employees affected will have the option to carry and pay for the family plan on their own. This will save the district approximately $26,949.

Charles Reichert, who runs the Alternative Learning Center (ALC), will retire this year. To save $19,265, the Board will not fill that position.

Another consideration, which was not approved, was to ask part-time employees laid off in the summer to pay their insurance premiums through COBRA, saving the district having to pay part of the premiums.

“Making staff take COBRA over the summer and not paying for family insurance would be too much,” said Supt. Gene Harthan.

The superintendent said the Board worked to make cuts that affected the classroom the least.

Health insurance is offered to employees who work 20 hours per week or more.

Proposed cuts not acted on included distributing the school newsletters four times per year instead of nine ($560 savings); cutting refreshments for board meetings ($150) and inservices ($400) and another para position ($12,000 – $15,000).

The Board also approved increases in athletic fees and ticket prices for the 2012-2013 year.

Athletic fees were raised $10 for grades 9 – 12 (now $40), and $5 for grades 7 – 8 (now $25).

“I’m really torn with raising athletic fees,” said Board Member Chris Kircher. “Ten dollars is not a lot, it may raise some revenue, but it may deter kids, too.”

Board Member Jay Loven, who is also the head football coach, said he often tells athletes if they have a problem with the fees, they should come to him, so it can be worked out.

“Kids don’t come up and say, ‘I can’t play because I don’t have the money,’” said Loven.

Ticket prices for athletic events will be $6 for adults and $4 for students, an increase of $1, but will remain $3 for senior citizens.

Tickets for fine arts activities such as plays and concerts will remain at $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.

The Board also approved charging $20 per couple to attend prom and also approved charging admission to next year’s prom. It will cost adults $5 and students and seniors $3 to watch the grand march.

Swanville School Board Briefs

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the Swanville School Board:

• Agreed to purchase 100 trees to be used as a  tree line on newly-acquired property, as required. John Loxtercamp, who owns a tree farm and needs to remove 125 trees by a power line on his property, offered to supply the trees, dig them, deliver them and plant them in the new spot for $25 each. The School Board guesstimated that without this offer, the district would most likely have paid $250 per tree for those services;

• Approved coaching responsibilities for the football team which pairs Swanville with Upsala for the USA football team. Jay Loven will be the head coach; Rand Tretter assistant  coach/defensive coordinator; Adam Gerads – assistant coach/offensive coordinator; and Mark Herbes assistant coach/special teams coordinator;

• Approved a joint purchasing agreement with the Anoka Hennepin School District, which would allow food to be purchased at a lower rate through that district’s contract;

• Raised breakfast rates by five cents and lunch rates by 10 cents for the 2012-2013 school year. Supt. Gene Harthan said the new calculations from the state suggest the district should raise meal prices by 13 cents, but capped it at 10 cents. When the rates take effect, elementary breakfast will cost $1.20 and the high school $1.25. Elementary lunch will cost $1.95 and high school $2.10.

• As the district does every year, placed all part-time employees on summer lay-off status to protect their Public Employees Retirement Association  (PERA) status;

• Accepted the resignation of Charles Reichert for his 18 years of service with the Alternative Learning Center (ALC). The Board will not replace Reichert’s position;

• Offered their statement of support for the Guard and Reserve;

• Heard Swanville students who have donated blood at least four times during their high school career would be awarded a red cord to wear during their graduation ceremony, courtesy of the American Red Cross as part of its “Red Cord Honors” program;

• Was invited to the staff/senior breakfast that will be served Friday morning, May 25, at 7:30 a.m.;

• Were reminded the Tech Team would take part in the Supermileage event using the car they built, in Brainerd Sunday – Tuesday, May 13 – 15; and

• Were reminded graduation ceremonies would be held Friday, May 25.

The Swanville School Board’s next meeting will be held Tuesday, June 12 at 7 p.m. in the high school library. The Board will not meet in July.