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Deficit fix: DL Schools cuts $400,000, will spend another $200,000 from reserves

With a projected deficit of $600,000 for the 2008-09 school year, the Detroit Lakes School Board voted Monday to approve cost containment measures that include spending $200,000 from district reserves.

According to District Superintendent Doug Froke, the use of these reserves is "manageable" as a one-time budget reduction measure.

Froke noted in the budget recommendations he presented at Monday's board meeting that the overall financial condition of the district is "very good."

However, two main factors have made these cost containments necessary. First, the district is projected to lose roughly 60 students next year. Second, while district revenues from state aid are expected to rise by 1 percent next year, there is a projected inflationary increase in expenditures of over 4 percent.

Besides spending down $200,000 from district reserves, other cost containment measures approved at Monday's meeting include elimination of a $25,000 consulting contract and a $50,000 cut to the plant operations and insurance budgets.

One-year-only reductions will include shifting $50,000 in district-controlled staff development dollars to offset expenses; a $50,000 reduction in the textbook budget; and applying $50,000 in qualifying expenses to the gifted and talented aids held in reserve by the district.

Staffing reductions will include:

-- Staff attrition created by a mid-year retirement and the elimination of one section of first grade together with creating a half-time core teacher position for the first grade will result in a savings of approximately $61,000;

-- Elimination of a middle school media specialist position (the high school and middle school media specialist positions will be combined) will result in a $34,739 savings;

-- Reduction of a high school/Area Learning Center position in Food and Consumer Sciences (FACS) to .6 FTE (full-time equivalency) will result in a $25,134 savings;

-- A $15,000 reduction in the activities budget, the details of which have not yet been finalized;

-- Reduction of a half-time music position, resulting in a savings of $18,914;

-- A reduction of 552 hours in secretarial time for the Area Learning Center will result in a $2,600 savings, and;

Reduction of an ALC counselor position to .6 FTE will result in a $30,877 savings.

Most of these staffing reductions will come about as the result of staff retirements.

The Detroit Lakes Board of Education met with Froke in closed session on March 10 for the purpose of conducting a superintendent evaluation.

Board Chairman Tom Klyve revealed the results of that evaluation at Monday's meeting.

Klyve noted that in his first six months on the job, Froke has "met or exceeded expectations in all areas."

(Vicki Gerdes can be reached by e-mail at

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454