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The Frazee-Vergas School Board is considering reducing its budget by making all grades at the elementary school three sections.

Board asked to consider making elementary three sections

By Barbie Porter


The Frazee-Vergas School Board was asked to consider options to reduce district expenditures, which includes shifting every grade at the elementary to three sections.

Frazee-Vergas Schools Superintendent Terry Karger said declining enrollment has administration considering three sections in grades K-6. Currently, K-1 have four sections.

“It is nothing we haven’t done in the past,” Karger said.

The change would stand to save the district $140,000, according to numbers presented to the board by the administration. 

Other staff reductions put up for board consideration included:

• Reducing the elementary music teacher to half of what it currently is. Karger said the position is held by a community expert and the license naturally expires at the end of the school year. The district is required to post the job in an attempt to find a licensed teacher. If the district reduced the position to a .5 full-time equivalent, the projected savings was $35,000.

• Eliminating the upper interventionist position. The position supports grades 1-4 and stands to save the district $70,000. Karger said there are two interventionists employed. He added kindergarten teachers have reported they have the support they need without an interventionist as each class has a paraprofessional. 

• Reducing second grade from three sections to 2.5, which stands to reduce the school budget by $35,000.

Karger said the concept would provide three teachers in the morning and two in the afternoon. He noted it is “not a good situation,” but was an option where a “penny could be pinched.”

Second grade is projected to have 61 students next year, and if the board were to consider the option the mornings would focus on core instruction.

• Re-establishing activity fees. The district offered activity fees to be waived to all students who had families submit a Free and Reduced Lunch application to the district. The idea was, the more families enrolled in the program, the more funding the district gets from the state. 

While the program increased the number of families filling out the Free and Reduced Lunch forms, the increase in families eligible for the program did not increase district funding enough to cover income made through activity fees. Karger commended those involved for trying the concept and said all were surprised by the end result.

Re-establishing the activity fees stands to bring an additional $20,000 into school coffers.

• Returning summer recreation programming to the city could reduce the school budget by $15,000.

Karger said there was a verbal agreement with the city to split the costs associated with the program, but that agreement had not been maintained in recent years. The board was asked to consider returning the program to the city if no financial support were provided.

Board member Tyler Trieglaff said the Frazee City Council discussed the matter during its April meeting. He said the council wanted to see a written contract, and documents showing how much the program spends.

• Noted funding provided through ESSER Fund, which was established as part of the Education Stabilization Fund to address financial impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provided the district with $250,000. The funds were used for technology and to reduce capital outlay.

Karger said a second round of ESSER funds is expected, but how it will be utilized has yet to be determined. The financial impact associated with the second round was stated to be $565,000, but it should be emphasized that amount is not certain.

Karger said a special school board working session was planned for the following Monday to discuss the funding options.

In other action

•  Hired Taylor Drewes as the new Family and Consumer Science teacher. The current instructor, Lisa Peterson, is retiring at the end of the school year.

Charlotte Putnam was hired as a summer technology helper.

Melanie Erickson, Jessica King, Debra Berg, Carey Alger and Frank Papenfuss were hired as summer cleaners. Daniel Graham was hired as a grounds keeper.  

• Accepted the resignation of head varsity basketball coach Hunter Graham, junior high girls basketball coach Katrina Courneya, special education teacher Karen Wageman and high school health paraprofessional Christine Hall.

• Approved joint payment resolution between the district and city of Frazee for clearing up boundaries of real estate between the two entities.