School Board discusses budget cuts

/ 25 April 2012 / jennifer

Patty Dexter, Eden Prairie News, April 25, 2012 –

Eden Prairie School officials have received direction on how to address a $4.4 million deficit in the proposed 2012-13 budget.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Jon McBroom presented the School Board with what he called a concept of ways to address the deficit. The board did not formally vote on the recommendations, but agreed by consensus to have administration move forward with them.

McBroom’s first recommendation was for the district to use $1.2 million from its unassigned fund balance to cover the budget gap, which reduces the amount of budget reductions to about $3.2 million.

He also outlined a list and description of proposed reductions which provide a total estimated savings of $3,255,000. The reductions are as follows:

  • Reduce the number of teacher positions due to a decline in student enrollment. This reduction will not result in a change to staffing ratios. The estimated savings is $1,975,000. “The amount of estimated savings includes cost savings from recent teacher retirements and that’s helped us,” McBroom said, adding that due to the large number of teacher retirees, the amount saved per teacher is higher than the average amount through attrition.

    McBroom said he did not yet have specifics on how many teaching positions would be reduced because he had been presenting the recommendation in general terms. He can now figure this out since the board agreed with the recommendations.</li>

    • Discontinue social emotional learning coordinator positions at each elementary school, which had been designated last year as one-year positions. McBroom said this means six positions will be eliminated. The estimated savings is $430,000.
    • Reduce paraprofessional positions at all elementary schools. McBroom said he did not have specific numbers for this one. The estimated savings is $250,000.
    • Reduce building-level administrative and supervisory positions. This could be up to two administrative positions, McBroom said. The estimated savings is $150,000.
    • Cut six bus routes as a result of the K-6 transformation and moving sixth grade students to the elementary schools. The estimated savings is $120,000.
    • Eliminate a district-level administrative position through attrition. The estimated savings is $110,000. “There are some spots open. We would just give up one of those and reassign some duties,” McBroom said.
    • Reduce overhead costs at the Administrative Services Center by moving Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion to Oak Point Elementary School and using fewer classrooms. The estimated savings is $100,000.
    • Trim the district-wide consulting and professional services budget. The estimated savings is $50,000.
    • Reduce a maintenance department position through attrition. The estimated savings is $50,000.
    • Reduce the budget supply allocations to all buildings and departments by 3 percent with an estimated savings of $20,000.</ul>

    McBroom said the district is also recommending a contingency fund of up to 12 positions to address class sizes that are above the established ratios. Where necessary, teachers can be recalled from unrequested leaves of absence or hired to fill these positions and reduce class sizes before the start of the 2012-13 school year.

    Treasurer Chuck Mueller said he wanted to see more information about health-care costs. McBroom said he could find that information in the union contracts which are locked in. He added he’s open to any ideas the board has about looking at insurance. The district has looked into things such as self insurance.

    Board Member Dave Espe said he wanted to see more reductions outside of the classroom than in the classroom. Board Member Karla Bratrud said she agreed with the recommendations but wanted to see the district look at other ways to find savings outside of the classroom going into the future.

    Later in the meeting the board approved changes to its district work plan which included the upcoming budget. The changes included having the first reading of the proposed budget on May 22, a tentative second reading on June 12 and a final reading of the budget on June 26.

    Superintendent contract

    The board unanimously approved a three-year superintendent contract, from 2012-15, for Curt Tryggestad, who is scheduled to start work this summer. Board Chair Ranee Jacobus and Vice Chair John Estall were involved with negotiating the contract. Board Member Suzanne Kutina said the contract is clear and framed to provide all of the necessary information.

    “I think you’ve done a good job making it competitive while meeting some unique needs,” she said.

    Alternative compensation for teachers

    The board approved the memorandum of understanding for the district’s teacher alternative compensation program, known as “Q Comp.”

    Angie Roesner, president of the Eden Prairie Education Association, said there are five main parts to the program: leadership positions, professional development, teacher evaluation, compensation and the alternative pay schedule. She outlined several changes to the document dealing with topics like teacher observations, how part-time staff will be paid and what would happen if program funding is eliminated.

    “We believe every teacher will be successful and that it’s our job to support them,” she said.