White Bear Lake Area School District approves budget cuts to balance new spending

/ 18 April 2012 / jennifer

Kristine Goodrich, White Bear Press, , April 18, 2012 –

WHITE BEAR LAKE — District 624 is planning nearly $238,000 in general fund budget cuts next school year to offset the costs of strategic plan initiatives.

Most of the reductions, which were approved by the School Board last week, are elimination of support staff positions.

Special services programs will lose the most staff: The equivalent of one licensed staff position, two paraprofessionals and an intern, for a savings of nearly $118,000. Staff reorganization in the Birch Lake Elementary office and hiring a contractor instead of replacing retiring transportation staff will save $40,000 each. A small reduction in clerical and Alternative Learning Center staff comprise the rest of the savings.

Elimination of a federal No Child Left Behind mandate also will reduce district expenses by $50,000.

The cost reductions will help balance the budget while the district implements initiatives recommended in last year’s strategic plan. Those include addition of a second language into the elementary schools, implementing the International Baccalaureate program at the middle schools and hiring more high school and middle school counselors.

The district also plans to put $50,000 into a reserve account to help fund additional strategic plan projects.

The board also approved cost cuts and shifts and fee increases to help offset a projected shortfall in the Community Services budget.

The cost for locals to participate in sports and Extended Day will increase 5 percent, generating an additional $37,000.

Cuts include reducing the summer Playground Program to four days a week and no longer providing $15,000 in annual grants to communities and organizations for recreation improvements.

With the board’s budget cuts approval, administration is now preparing an overall budget proposal for board consideration. The board typically approves the budget in June.