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School district restores cut teaching positions

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By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

Three Morris Area teachers who had their positions cut two weeks ago will have them reinstated, and the district school board also approved a full-time elementary teaching position to handle projected increased enrollment.

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To erase a projected budget deficit, the Morris Area School Board approved a package of cuts and deficit spending to erase a deficit of almost $132,000 for the 2009-2010 school year.

But changes approved by the Legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty this spring made it possible to restore the reduced teaching positions late last week. And given a projected enrollment increase of at least 20 elementary students this fall, the board opted to increase its deficit spending slightly to budget for the elementary teaching spot, said Superintendent Scott Monson.

Teachers Nancy Grotjohn, Jody Snow and Deb Swezey had their positions reducted by 1/6th of a Full Time Equivalent last month. But the state approved a waiver to a mandated 2 percent set-aside for staff development, allowing the district to reallocated almost $70,000 to other budget items, such as a reinstatement of courses taught by Grotjohn, Snow and Swezey.

Monson said the district will increase its deficit spending by about $15,000 to create a full-time elementary teaching position that could be filled by one teacher working full time, or a pair of half-time instructors.

Last month, the board approved a budget option that called for cuts totaling almost $89,000 combined with about $43,000 in deficit spending.

The preliminary cuts proposed: Eliminating one-half of a full-time music position; reducing one-sixth of an art position; reducing business education by one-sixth of a full-time position; reducing FACS by one-sixth of a full-time position. Other budget cuts include eliminating or restructuring the girls golf program, reducing junior high or sub-varsity coaching staffs, and reducing special education paraprofessional staff.

But the reductions were made before the legislative session was completed, and Monson said at the time that other circumstances could affect the final budget.

"If revenue sources change, things could be brought back," he said in May.

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