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More than $400,000 in cuts identified for Perham-Dent School District

PERHAM - The old brick administrative building will be closed, and the equivalent of at least 3.5 teaching positions will vanish after the next round of Perham-Dent school budget cuts.

A list of more than $400,000 in cuts was reviewed at the Feb. 23 school board meeting. And there is still a $113,600 "gap" to reach the school's reduction goal of $542,000 from next year's operating budget.

Nearly $125,000 of the cuts will come in reductions in secretarial, cleaning and para-professional staff.

The closing of Dent school, after this school year, will save about $25,000 in heat, electricity and overhead costs.

Known as the "administrative building," located on the corner west of Perham High School, the facility has housed the Alternative Learning Center in recent years.

Under the budget-cutting plan, the building will be closed and the ALC will be incorporated into the Family Resource Center. The ALC, which provides education to high school students who learn better in a non-traditional setting, will occupy the second level of the Family Learning Center, which is located near the East Otter Tail fairgrounds, east of the high school.

Closing the ALC building is expected to save $10,000 in overhead costs. Rent revenue, if the school finds a tenant for the building, will provide income to offset some budget reductions.

So deep are the cuts that teaching positions will now be reduced. Administration and the board have avoided cutting when it directly impacted the education of students--until now.

The board accepted the resignations of teacher Debra Johnson and teacher Diana Porath, a full time high school math teacher whose position will not be replaced.

Other staff cuts, which will save about $150,000, include:

-Absorbing the "gifted and talented" program into the classroom, for a savings of $14,000

-Not replacing a half-time science teacher, for a savings of about $30,000

-Reduce English as a Second Language teacher to three-quarter time; saving about $13,900

-Not replacing an elementary teacher who is on leave, for savings of $51,000

"We're at the point that we will be cutting teachers," said Uselman, illustrating that nearly all options for cutting have been exhausted. "We could cut all the administration, every cook, every cleaner--but we would still need to cut teachers."

Among the cuts is $5,000 that will be saved by reducing the number of telephone access lines, and also reducing to one postage meter--which will be shared district-wide.