Budget blues to impact 40 Dist. 728 employees

Communications manager position eliminated

By Jim Boyle

Elk River Star News


The process of notifying Elk River Area School District administrators who will likely lose their jobs in the face of a minimum of $2.4 million in budget reductions has begun.

The Star News has learned the district’s communication’s department will take a hit. Casey Mahon, the district’s manager of communications,  confirmed Thursday, March 28, he was notified Tuesday his position his position is being eliminated.

The District 728 School Board was to meet Monday, April 1, in a work session that will include an update and discussion on the budget-cutting process.

Building level administrators were notified last week and district personnel were notified this week. These recommended cuts will go before the board for action at an April 8 regular meeting of the Elk River Area School Board, according to Supt. Mark Bezek.

“Nothing is final until then,” Bezek said. “It’s totally a process.”

Teachers who are on the chopping block will be notified next, the school chief said. The School Board plans to reduce the budget by as much as $2.7 million.

“None of this is easy,” Bezek said. “We’re going to be impacting 40 good people. That is ripping us apart, but what are you going to do?”

Bezek said the one thing the district and board work to hold up during the process is the district’s mission statement.

“What are we here for,” he said. “You try to keep the cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.”

Bezek said one thing that you do in a budget-cutting process is look at what the district has gone without in the past, and is there a way to do that again.

Dist. 728 administration is proposed to be cut by about $550,000, which amounts to 17 percent of the overall cut.

Exactly who is being cut has not been made public, but word of potential cuts has gotten out as administrators and district office personnel learned of their potential fate and perhaps shared it with others, Bezek said.

Karen Michels, a former Zimmerman City Council member and involved parent, spoke this past week at open forum to talk about what she feels will be unintended consequences of past actions of the school district. She asserts that the district’s effort to have a successful science, technology, engineering and math magnet program in the center of the school district has pulled enough kids away from other middle schools that certain schools will feel cuts more deeply.

“The district shouldn’t penalize the schools for supporting (new opportunities),” she said.