LTE: Cuts to programs don’t benefit kids, community

To the editor,
The ISD 110 school district has had a deficit in enrollment this year, the expected growth was 110 and we grew 20, this impacts the amount of money the district receives from the state and has caused a major shortfall of funds. The way the district has chosen to offset this loss is to cut the elementary music and physical education programs.

About three years ago music and physical education was every day, it changed to 4/5 days – a 20 percent cut, add that to the cut just announced and it’s a total of 50 percent, not the 37 percent that they are currently claiming.

At the beginning of the school year enrollment was already below projections and continued down trending throughout the year. Yet, during the fall and winter months they hired a Director of Communications and Community Relations and two consulting firms, estimates of salary and benefits for the Director of Communications and Community Relations is in the range of $140,000, payments to the branding consultant and the crisis management consultant were not included on the board reports. In addition, Superintendent Devine’s contract for 2017-20 was signed in October and gave him an almost 12 percent increase in 2017, with 3 percent increases in the following three years.

Deficit spending was planned for and expected in the current school year. Mr. Devine notified every one of the need to cut on March 27 and said they would take a hard look at a solution; and then just eight days later they announced the cuts. Deficit spending was planned for the year, the board and administration knew that enrollment was low all year. My question is why if it was known that we were so low on enrollment did we spend money on a Communications Director and two consulting firms?

This all has me questioning what is the real reason for these cuts – who is this benefiting? Not our children, not our community. How can we simultaneously be cutting music and physical education staff and therefore the programs that they begin and hire additional administration staff, branding managers, and consulting firms? These changes do not look good for our district and community, as was proven by the turnout at the last school board meeting. If this is the new “brand” of District 110 I think you can count on many more years of declining enrollment as you are cutting what is exceptional to the district itself.

Jill Raisbeck
Waconia