FAIRMONT - Fairmont Area Schools has released a list of programs scheduled to be cut from the 2013-2014 budget. The programs would be restored if voters approve a referendum in November.
Among the cuts are all sports and co-curricular programs - football, cheerleading, tennis, volleyball, cross country, basketball, gymnastics, wrestling, golf, softball, baseball, track, speech, robotics, Knowledge Bowl, math league, yearbook, fall and spring play, musical, student council, band concerts, choir concerts, orchestra concerts, science fair, as well as the positions of activities director and assistant.
At the elementary school, 6.5 teaching positions (art, music, physical education, fifth- and sixth-grade band and fifth- and sixth-grade orchestra) would be eliminated. Elementary art, music and physical education would be taught by classroom teachers.
At the high school, two teachers (vocational electives and physical education electives) would go.
The cuts total $754,000.
In addition, the district will shorten the school day, with classes beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 2:22 p.m.
Superintendent Joe Brown says the school board believes it is important for voters to know exactly what programs will be affected if the referendum does not pass on Nov. 6.
The list was drafted by looking at all classes and programs not mandated by law, Brown said.
The district is asking voters to approve an increase of $450 in a per pupil levy - raising an existing $500 levy to $950.
For comparison, Granada-Huntley-East Chain residents pay $2,558 per student, Martin County West residents $1,540 and Truman $1,476.
The tax impact for a $77,000 home is $87 per year. For a $160,000 home, the increase is $185.
If the referendum does not pass, the district's current operating levy will expire in 2014, creating a $1 million annual revenue loss.
If the referendum does pass, the infusion of funds will allow the district to maintain current programming for five years, but not increase staffing or programs.
"If we didn't [make these proposed cuts], we would have had to cut a kindergarten teacher, a first-grade teacher, second-grade teacher, and so on, and then class sizes would balloon," Brown said.
Money generated by the current levy represents 4.5 percent of the district's budget. If voters approve an increase, it would be 9 percent of the budget.
Most of public school funding - nearly 80 percent - is provided by the state of Minnesota.
One program that officials talked about in their budget discussions is full-day kindergarten. The school board opted to maintain the program. The state only funds half-day kindergarten, with Fairmont Area putting up the other half of the funding to offer it full day. Brown said the program would actually cost the district more if it was run as a half-day program because of the cost of "double busing" students - driving them home earlier than the rest of the students.
Community forums on the referendum are scheduled at the William Budd Room at Fairmont Elementary several dates next month: 6 p.m Oct. 15, 9 a.m. Oct. 20 and 10 a.m. Oct. 22. There will also be a forum at Ceylon City Hall at 6 p.m. Oct. 25.