The end of the school year is quickly approaching, and I am quite certain students are excited for summer vacation to get here. We remain focused on finishing strong, yet plans are in the mix for next year. I would like to take a moment to share information about a few items of importance that have happened recently or are ongoing.
This is the time of the school year when we have very carefully been watching what was happening in St. Paul - the House and Senate seemed to be on a different page than Gov. Tim Pawlenty for most of the session, especially the last few weeks. What was clear throughout the session was that funding for education was not going to increase significantly over the current year and that a "payment shift" from the state was imminent and would likely result in the need for our district to borrow money to meet financial obligations (cash flow) for the 2009-2010 school year. Because of these - and other - factors and the uncertainty of potential sources of revenue, the School Board recently approved a resolution discontinuing and reducing educational programs and positions. In addition to smaller revenue increases and budget reductions, the list of budget adjustments contained in this resolution included reducing three teaching positions by 1/6 and eliminating another 1/2 time position. The sum of budget adjustments approved by the board totaled $88,764. Even with these budget adjustments, the district is still faced with the potential to deficit spend (spend down the "savings account", if you will) $42,927 in 2009-2010. During a recent meeting, the board stated that any positive changes in revenue should be directed at reinstating instructional positions, and I am cautiously optimistic that some of the positions could be reinstated in the next few weeks. A final budget for 2009-2010 needs to be approved prior to July 1, and I anticipate the board doing so at the regular meeting in June which is scheduled for Monday, June 22 at 7:00 pm.
Each month, the Morris Area School Board utilizes a section of each monthly meeting to recognize accomplishments and achievements of Morris Area students and staff. There are many months when the list is very long, and I would say that I am continually impressed with what Morris Area students and staff do and achieve. These recognitions might include an all-state selection for one of our athletes or students, an award that a teacher earns, or a group of students who did exceptionally well on something. Regardless of the specifics of "Tiger Pride", this section serves as a nice reminder that we have great students and a great staff ... I hope we can keep in mind how fortunate we are for this.
Our district recently recognized several staff members for their years of service in the Morris Area School District. The district honored Gene Holmgren, Dave Johnson, Diane Nelson, Joyce Rentz, and Jill VanKempen. Mr. Holmgren taught science at MAHS for 21 years, Ms. Nelson taught business education at MAHS for 34 years, and Ms. Rentz taught special education at MAES for 30 years. All three of these individuals are retiring. Mr. Johnson was granted a one-year leave of absence and is pursuing other options after teaching drama and language arts at MAHS for 16 years. Ms. VanKempen has been an office manager at MAHS for 35 years and is also retiring from her position. All five of these individuals bring invaluable (136 years) experience to their positions and will be missed. On behalf of the staff and School Board, I would like to wish them nothing but the best of luck in their future endeavors.