District makes changes to planned cutsDistrict 196 school counselors showed up at a Monday night school board meeting to argue against cuts to their program, but it turns out they didn’t need to. The law was already on their side.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
District 196 school counselors showed up at a Monday night school board meeting to argue against cuts to their program, but it turns out they didn’t need to. The law was already on their side.
A state law requiring school districts to maintain the effort they put toward counseling programs means the district can not cut the equivalent of 3.15 full-time positions from its social work program.
That was just one change to the district’s planned $15.6 million cuts superintendent Jane Berenz presented Monday. The changes came after the district got input at a pair of focus group sessions held last week.
The district’s proposed budget adjustments now include an increase to sports and co-curricular fees in place of 10 percent cuts to the programs and a new busing fee for students who live within 1/2 miles of their school.
Berenz said the 10 percent cut to co-curricular programs was going to mean the elimination of entire programs. The new proposal would charge $70 per fine arts activity rather than $70 for the entire year and would increase fees for sports by $55.
Berenz said the increase should allow the district to cover 40 percent of the cost of running those programs rather than the approximately 25 percent current fees cover.
She said 96 percent of participants in the focus groups supported paying more for sports and fine arts activities.
It’s less clear how much the busing fee will raise for the district because there is not a good idea yet of how many people will be willing to pay to avoid a walk to school.
The new fee will not affect who is eligible to ride the bus, but it allows students who live in the current walking zone to take the bus if they want.
Overall Berenz was happy with participation in the two focus groups, which featured invited groups of residents, business owners and district employees. Sixty-five people attended the two sessions and Berenz said 52 percent felt the district was cutting the right amount from its budget. Another 29 percent thought the district was cutting too much and 19 percent thought more should be cut.
“I always appreciate people who are engaged in the process,” Berenz said.