Rochester's budget talks weren't without some fireworks Tuesday night, as board members argued about what should even be discussed, let alone what should be cut from the district's general fund.
At one point, board member Fred Daly made a motion to approve the cuts as proposed, which was seconded by Mechelle Severson. The meeting wouldn't have allowed time for discussion though, so the motion was vacated. I would have been surprised if it would have passed, based on the discussion at hand. It seemed as though the other five board members all wanted to continue discuss the cuts and what could be changed.
The board is looking at cutting $4.5 million and the details are below. They had to suspend the meeting early because of caucuses (caucii?), and will revisit the budget talks at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3.
I've also included a link to what the board will look at cutting, in addition to items that Superintendent Romain Dallemand has recommended to save from the budget ax. More to come.
LINK: Proposed cuts (pdf)>
LINK: Board begins budget cut debate (article)
School board begins debating $4.5 million in budget cutsBy Elliot Mann
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
baby let out a cry Tuesday afternoon as Rochester school board chairman
James Pittenger asked the audience for any input on upcoming budget
The wail summed up the thoughts of many in attendance.
Rochester schools are currently debating how best to cut $4.5 million from its general fund of almost $150 million.
a scenario that has been playing out across Minnesota during the past
few months, especially in Rochester, which also cut more than $9
million last year. The focus Tuesday was the budget task force's
recommendations, which were presented to the school board after being
reviewed by Superintendent Romain Dallemand.
Mandates foil budget
force members Rich Fugate and Kula Shives spoke to the board about the
items and the process, which lasted the past few months.
Fugate said state and federal mandates leave few choices when it comes to making cuts.
"If this process is repeated again, and those barriers don't change … all you're doing is firing people," he said.
Shives backed up Fugate's statement, saying that "nickel and dime-ing the system" isn't changing how the district does business.
stressed the importance of teachers in young children's lives, bringing
to mind some of her own teachers she had in elementary school. Those
connections continue to be impaired, Shives said.
"We are taking away the people that connect with kids," she said.
proposed cuts are large-scale reductions to departmental budgets across
the district, as well as ones that would likely impact some elective
The cuts wouldn't completely remove the "seventh class
choice" for high schoolers, but it would make scheduling more
difficult. It has largely been an issue with students who desire to
take four years of band, but also four years of a foreign language.
flat state funding and expenditures that continue to rise, cuts
continue to mount. Next year, the board estimates that they will need
to carve away another seven figures.
Board begins debate
outlined possible budget cuts Tuesday night and warned about the
upcoming budget crisis at the state, suggesting "this is the time to
look at things differently." He went through each of the items that he
proposed changing, which included deeper cuts to athletic programs.
board discussed the proposals for more than two hours, but needed to
end Tuesday's meeting because caucuses were being held on the same
At one point, shortly before the assigned time to
adjourn, board member Fred Daly made a motion to accept Dallemand's
budget items as proposed. Board member Mechelle Severson seconded.
was clear that the motion vexed some of the other members. Since
discussion would have warranted additional time, Daly withdrew his
motion so the board could adjourn.
Daly was irritated that the
board was modifying the task force's budget proposal, suggesting that
they were micromanaging the process by doing so.
Several of the other board members disagreed with his opinion.
board will pick up the discussion at a later date that has yet to be
decided, but early discussions point toward either Tuesday, Feb. 9, or
Tuesday, Feb. 16.