February 13, 2019 10:12 PM
The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District is proposing major cuts to make up for a $7 million budget shortfall.
The list of potential cuts includes freshman athletics, middle school orchestra and some elementary school field trips.
At a school board meeting Wednesday, parents were invited to share their concerns and thoughts on ways to save money. Hundreds of families showed up.
David Limberg, who has a son in school, said cutting programs was the wrong approach.
"Vision 191 espouses building a diverse community where every student is valued," he said. "However to cut activities because of budget constraints degrades Vision 191 into idle lip service."
Elizabeth Berger is in eighth grade and plays viola.
"I think a lot of people wouldn't rejoin in 10th grade because you miss a whole year of orchestra and practicing," she said. "And it would be hard to catch up."
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Amy Boys is the parent of a fourth and seventh-grader. Her kids are involved in soccer, basketball, chess and band. And the nature of the cuts worries her.
"These are all things that keep our kids active in schools, and it concerns me that parents may leave due to budget cuts," she said earlier in the day.
Brian Fischer's children are not even in school yet, but he too has concerns.
"If you're going to cut music, drama, sports - activities that keep kids active and (learning), I'm going to have to look possibly elsewhere to get those activities for my kids," he said Wednesday afternoon.
Dan Gerner started a Facebook page - Fight the ISD 191 budget cuts - to get more parents involved.
"Academics and extracurricular activities go hand in hand," he said prior to Wednesday night's meeting. "Those should be two sacred cows that are never touched under any circumstance."
Even though his youngest will be out of school soon, Gerner remains passionate about this issue.
"In another year, I'm gone, but I still care because it's important to our community," he said. "It's important to the kids."
The district cited two main reasons for the cuts: state funding which hasn't kept up with inflation. The district receives around $92 million a year in state dollars and the vast majority of that is spent on salaries for teachers, counselors, janitors, etc. Plus, mandated services like special education classes are underfunded by $12 million according to the district.
"We have to spend $12.7 million out of our general fund to make up for the cost of special education services that are not paid by the state and federal government," Superintendent Cindy Amoroso said earlier Wednesday.
But she acknowledged that there are no easy decisions.
"The reason they are on there is not an implication (that) they are not valued or not important," she said. "We know they are - to our families, to our students and frankly to our system."
The school board has a work session scheduled next week. It will then come forward with a revised budget cut plan on Feb. 28. The recommended cuts will likely take place in June.
Jessica Miles & Beth McDonough
Updated: February 13, 2019 10:12 PM
Created: February 13, 2019 04:32 PM
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