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Baxter school board moves forward with budget cut recommendations

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 12:03 p.m. CDT

While just half the crowd showed up for Monday night’s meeting of the Baxter Community School District School Board of Education as did for last week’s town hall meeting, questions from parents and community members made it clear that Baxter values its music program.

Despite this, the board voted to move forward with the 16 recommendations set forth by Superintendent Matt Patton early last week and detailed by the Daily News, with one minor amendment.

In addition to the measures Patton recommended toward cutting $200,000 from the 2013-2014 budget, the board discussed adding a 17th item to the list: eliminating the cost of agenda planners for students by either having parents take over the cost or no longer requiring them.

By bumping the priority on elimintaing the cost of the planners, the last two items on the list of cuts — reducing elementary staff by one teaching poisition and reducing the K-12 music department by one position — become the last measures the board will need to take, dependent on health insurance negotiations this spring.

While the staff reductions fall last on the list of recommended cuts, Patton emphasized that the decision to move forward with the recommendations should be seen as final — for now, anyway.

“Because circumstances are changing, we can always re-establish things we’re cutting,” Patton said, referring to the possible institution of a part-time teaching position or para-professional. “We won’t know until things shake out if the estimations I’ve made (in terms of money saved by proposed cuts), which are rather conservative, will be higher. Things can always be restored, but the decision is, at this point, final.”

“This isn’t out first choice; it’s not an ideal situation,” Baxter School Board president Curt Hansen said. “We’ll evaluate (cutting teaching positions) when we get closer to knowing what the final dollar figures are.”

“We won’t know those answers until we get further down the road,” Patton added. “We’re hoping the numbers grow as they go down the list.”

Staff writer Nicole Wiegand may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 422, or at nwiegand@newtondailynews.com.

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