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Moorhead OKs list of teachers to let go

MOORHEAD - Moorhead School Board member Bill Tomhavy read the list of 29 names and subjects - mathematics, science, English, special education, and social studies - to a hushed room full of district staff members. Then, as board protocol would have it, his colleague Lisa Erickson read them again.

Minutes earlier at the Monday meeting, Ron Nielsen, the district's human resources director, had announced the termination of the non-tenured teachers - the full-time equivalent of 26.5 positions out of about 37 the district is cutting this spring.

After accounts of field trips and math awards, Nielsen said, "We've come to the part of the program we don't like to do - never want to do."

The meeting marked the first time the district named names as part of trimming roughly

$4.5 million from its budget. At its next meeting in two weeks, the board will vote on a shorter list of tenured teachers - generally those who have been with the district longer than three years - slated for nonrenewal.

Meanwhile, next door at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, the School Board tonight will consider an administration proposal to cut the equivalent of almost 3.5 full-time teaching positions. Four part-time reductions to D-G-F kindergarten faculty might be temporary as the district transitions to a new, district-sponsored all-day kindergarten program and weighs enrollment, Superintendent Randy Bruer said.

D-G-F approved a plan to trim $160,000 from its budget earlier this year to make up for expiring one-time, per-pupil funding from the state. Bruer had said his team would attempt to keep cuts away from the classroom through reductions in support staff or professional development.

But Bruer said the district might need to take a harder look at its finances in light of the recent state senate approval of a 3.2 percent education funding cut. (The House is looking at a bill that would keep funding unchanged while Gov. Tim Pawlenty is advocating for a modest increase.)

Though the cuts the board will consider tonight are worth $157,000, Bruer said the D-G-F administration will continue to look for ways to reduce spending, possibly beyond the planned $160,000.

"We're looking at the whole picture," Bruer said. "We're taking a little bit from everything."

In Moorhead, Nielsen said some retirements, leaves and resignations will help keep the list of tenured teachers facing nonrenewal shorter. The district has not settled on the number of teachers it will let go April 27.

Three of the non-tenured teachers let go Monday will be offered part-time contracts. The remainder will receive their termination notices today.

"Depending on student enrollment, some of these teachers might be offered their jobs back," Nielsen said, but added, "too soon to tell."