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ISD 196 plans focus groups to discuss budget cuts

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools has scheduled focus group meetings for Feb. 16 and 18 to get reaction to budget adjustment recommendations for 2010-11 which will be presented to the School Board Feb. 8.

The focus group meetings will be conducted by citizen members of the district's budget advisory council. The meetings will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. both nights at Black Hawk Middle School in Eagan. There will be focus groups of parents, employees and business/community leaders. Participants for these groups have been randomly selected and invited by letter from superintendent Jane Berenz. There will also be two open groups on Feb. 18 for anyone who would like to participate but did not receive a letter of invitation. The first 40 people to call the superintendent's office at 651-423-7723 or show up at the Feb. 18 meeting will be allowed to participate in one of the two open groups.

A district budget steering committee has been meeting since December to develop a list of recommended budget reductions and revenue enhancements for next year. The budget adjustments are needed in response to the state delaying approximately $58 million in aid payments to District 196 this year and the possibility of cuts to education funding during the upcoming legislative session.

District 196 residents and employees may also share comments on the recommended budget adjustments by sending an e-mail to or by attending regular school board meetings in February and March. The recommendations will first be presented to the board at its regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 8, 6 p.m., at Dakota Ridge School in Apple Valley. A summary of feedback gathered at the focus group meetings will be shared at the Feb. 22 board meeting. The final budget adjustment recommendations are scheduled to be presented as new business at the March 8 board meeting, with action by the board at the March 29 meeting.