[Hills-Beaver Creek] cuts three teachers to trim budget

/ 16 May 2012 / jennifer

Lexi Moore, Rock County Star Herald, May 16, 2012 –

After several months of discussing Statutory Operating Debt and how to resolve it, the Hills-Beaver Creek School Board took its first major step toward repairing the situation by making licensed staff cuts at Monday night’s meeting.

Interim Superintendent Herb Benz recommended cutting three full-time teaching positions and reducing one position.

The following people received termination resolutions: secondary teacher Brett Pappas and elementary teachers Cassie Uithoven and Kala Bush.

Vocal instructor Jodi Ackerman’s contract was reduced from 1.0 FTE to 0.67 FTE.

This adjustment does not cut any instruction time at the elementary school or junior/senior high but does eliminate two planning periods.

In Benz’s comments on the cuts he said, “With 75 percent of the school budget consisting of employee costs and the escalation of the general fund deficit to the $330,000 level or about 10 percent of the school budget, it is impossible to avoid employee cuts.”

He explained that pressure from the Minnesota Department of Education to submit a SOD plan by May 30 has forced him to make staff cuts before the end of the school year.

The next phases of the budget cuts include reducing non-licensed staff and implementing cost savings for the day-to-day operation of the school district.

Board member Jim Keuter asked how the cuts would affect the student/teacher ratio. Superintendent-elect Todd Holthaus admitted that there would be one “bad spot with about 30 kids.”

Benz said he does not anticipate making any more recommendations to cut licensed staff.

“Todd and I have looked at it and it is not possible to do much more. This is pretty much a skeleton crew,” Benz said.

After the non-renewal resolutions passed, board chair Gary Esselink addressed the board and visitors.

“This is one of the more difficult things we have to be put through. It is not easy, not pleasant and is not a reflection on the individuals affected,” he said.

“We, as a board, appreciate the efforts of the staff during this difficult time.”