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LP-A School faces 2011 budget deficit

With a successful school bond referendum now behind them, the Lake Park-Audubon School Board had to face a little bit of bad news Monday: a projected budget deficit for fiscal year 2011.

But as LP-A Superintendent Dale Hogie pointed out, the projected 2010-11 deficit of just under $40,000 amounted to .68 percent of the total projected revenue of $5.8 million.

During the open forum portion of the meeting, the board also heard from several concerned parents and daycare providers regarding the recent elimination of the district's early childhood home visitation program.

Susan DeBlieck, a daycare provider and mother of five, said the program had proven invaluable in the early detection of her daughter's speech problems.

"I believe it's very important for a child to walk into their first day of kindergarten with confidence," she said, noting that if her child hadn't gotten the necessary speech therapy at an early age, that might not have been the case.

DeBlieck said the group was asking the board to allow them to form a committee and brainstorm ideas for alternatives to keep the program in the district, such as charging daycare providers for the service.

Board member Jeff Swetland said he would like the board to look into the matter further.

Hogie said it would be put on the agenda for discussion at a future meeting of the policy and personnel committee.

In other business, the board heard a technology report from the district's technology coordinator, Bob Henderson.

Henderson asked the board to consider replacing some of its current software, such as Microsoft Office, with open source software of comparable quality.

Henderson said there are many advantages to using open source software, chief among them being the fact that it is free, with no licensing fees.

By comparison, the cost of upgrading the district's MS Office software would be over $20,000, and many of the computers currently in use at both the high school and elementary would not be compatible with the upgrade.

"There is no 'happy' solution (to the upgrade problem)," Henderson noted.

Some of the drawbacks to open source software, he added, would be higher technical support costs, compatibility issues and a lack of textbook documentation.

Other parts of Henderson's presentation focused on providing off-site system backup for both school buildings.

Besides approving the preliminary budget, the board also approved a new salary agreement with Hogie.

He will receive $98,960 for fiscal year 2011, an increase of just 1.5 percent over the previous year, corresponding with the salary increase given to teaching and support staff for next year.

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