January 2002: We need your input for schools' sake
On a regular basis, the Board publishes a column in the local newspapers on a topic of timely interest.
As you may know, the Mounds View School District faces a harsh new reality. Like many suburban school districts, our district is experiencing a trend in declining enrollment as the number of families with young children in our area declines. At the same time, the expenses associated with providing the best education possible continue to outpace state revenue.
To meet the challenge of balancing the budget, the School Board of Mounds View Public Schools is preparing to reduce $3.5 million from the 2002-2003 budget. Superintendent Jan Witthuhn recently presented us with several budget-reduction approaches to consider. At our January 8 board meeting, we unanimously determined the best approach to take is a strategy that gradually, but permanently, downsizes our district. As such, the reductions we anticipate represent the first step in a multiple-year, permanent downsizing process.
Although the proposed reductions are painful, we are taking actions to minimize the impact on class sizes.
In comparison to similar-sized suburban school districts, District 621 operates with a lean administrative staff. Despite our efficiencies, Superintendent Witthuhn has proposed a reduction of $1 million from central administrative services and instructional support.
The specifics of our plan have not yet been finalized, but the Board has approved a direction that calls for reductions in several other areas beyond central administration including:
Increased walking distances to reduce transportation expenses
Reduced K-12 instruction and school-based support staffing
Increased co-curricular participation fees and reduced program costs
The reduction of professional development opportunities
Fewer courses offered in the high schools
Reduced counselor, dean and associate principal positions in the high schools
Reduced special ed. positions, and reduced contracted services with community agencies
Canceled District memberships with professional associations
No increase in funding to purchase school supplies
As you might conclude from that list, our proposed budget reductions will unfortunately affect almost every student in every school in some way. That's why we want to hear what you think.
The School Board has scheduled a series of community budget forums in February. These gatherings are a good opportunity for citizens to share their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the District's approach to budget reductions as we move to permanently downsize the District. Meeting dates are:
Tuesday, February 5: Shoreview Community Center
Thursday, February 21: Family Service Center of New Brighton
Thursday, February 28: Mounds View Community Center
All community forums are from 6:30-9 p.m., and community input from each meeting will be posted on the District's web site at www.moundsviewschools.org.
Despite our challenging task ahead, we look forward to collaborating with the community to make the best decisions possible for our district, our schools and our students.
Sincerely, Wendy Benson Barb Bollum Lori Grivna Mark Kimball Cathy Moynihan Marre Jo Sager David Stimpson