Burnsville school board drops 4-day plan

/ 4 May 2012 / jennifer

William C. Crum, Star Tribune, May 4, 2012 –

After hearing from the public in the past month, Burnsville board members agreed this wasn’t the time for a major schedule change.

Burnsville school board members have dropped the idea of using a four-day week to help balance the district’s budget.

The board had been considering a school calendar that would have included longer school days and some shorter school weeks. The goal was to cut 17 days from the school calendar, or about a day every two weeks.

Over the past month, the board conducted a series of public hearings on the proposal. At a workshop Thursday night, board members agreed to drop the idea, Chairman Ron Hill said Friday.

“It became apparent this wasn’t the time to attempt a schedule change like this,” Hill said.

The proposal was part of efforts to find $5 million in savings for the 2012-13 school year.

The Burnsville district has about 9,600 students but has been beset for years by enrollment declines, which are projected to continue.

It would have become the first metro-area district and the largest in the state to build four-day weeks into the school calendar on a regular basis. Projected savings amounted to $776,000.

In reviewing their options, board members factored in savings from the recent renewal of the district’s health insurance plan, Hill said. A move to a higher-deductible policy leaves costs flat in the upcoming year, reducing anticipated expenses by $900,000. The district also expects to save money on busing as a new bus company takes over the contract.

The board also agreed to dip into budget reserves, drawing out about $1 million, Hill said.

Plans to cut about 26 positions — which could include layoffs — remain in the proposed budget, said Superintendent Randy Clegg. Administrators will have a revised budget proposal for the board at its May 17 meeting, he said.

WILLIAM C. CRUM

http://www.startribune.com/local/south/150209865.html