STMA prepares for possible teacher reductions

The St. Michael-Albertville School Board approved a resolution directing administration to make recommendations for program reductions and staff positions.

The resolution does not mean reductions will take place, but the superintendent wanted authorization in place depending on how enrollment and state funding affect the budget.

The board also heard about wireless options for the district’s schools, and took action on other issues.



Supt. Jim Behle reviewed projections for the 2013-14 school year. He said next year would be the first one in years where enrollment increases will be less than 100 students. He conservatively calculated an enrollment increase of 56 students.

The superintendent did not include a 1 percent, or additional $52 per pupil increase, in the state’s Basic Funding Formula that the governor proposed, noting that the final education budget wouldn’t be completed until mid-May. As a result, Behle said he would delay some decisions regarding teacher staffing because the district does not have large increases in student enrollment to fund the budget.

Behle next reviewed the capital projects budget, which is within $40,000 of balancing revenue and expenditures, which he said was accomplished by eliminating $720,000 in requested expenditures.

The superintendent’s projected budget showed that expenditures would exceed revenue, with the intent to show that STMA would need to reduce increases in expenditures.

In related matters, Behle asked the board to approve a “Resolution on Teacher Reductions.” He said he’s uncertain at this time if there would be a reduction in any teacher’s position, but asked for authorization to do so if necessary.

With the approved resolution, Behle said the board would still have to approve specific recommendations at future board meetings. Board members Gayle Weber, Carol Steffens, Jeff Lindquist and Doug Birk approved the resolution (board members Jeanne Holland and Drew Scherber were absent). Behle said he would come to the April 15 board meeting with specific recommendations if necessary.

In related matters, Behle updated the board about 2013-14 staffing and action on adding positions. He said the budget was built with the goal to increase the general fund reserve by not spending all the referendum increase.

While he was not able to approve all the principals’ staffing requests, Behle identified positions he built into the budget and ones that have not been approved. He recommended approval of a Middle School East special education teacher, a high school Spanish teacher and high school science teacher. He said that postponing the decision on these teachers would reduce the applicant pool. The board approved the request.



In other news, the board heard that a Wireless/Mobile Device Task Force comprised of teachers and administrators has been studying wireless and mobile device educational options for the district.

The group reviewed topics such as learning improvement through technology. Supt. Behle said technology director Wayne Hoistad would make a full presentation and recommendation to the board at the April 15 meeting. He said the cost would not permit the district to have wireless in all schools, but that Hoistad would discuss an option to start at the high school with a five-year lease to own agreement.

The task force also discussed permitting students to  bring mobile devices to school, which would require a change in board policy as well as significant planning and training.

The board agreed to review technology infrastructure funding and wireless and mobile device options as presented April 15.

In other action, the board:

AUTHORIZED $15,800 to update and redesign the district website.