Value of teachers outweighs balanced budget Monday night’s school board meeting in Somerset opened amid an air of fiscal inquisition. Board member Patty Schachtner repeatedly asked teachers and principals to estimate the number of hours Professional Learning Community (PLC) leaders spend fulfilling their responsibilities in exchange for the $2,000 stipend they receive.“What kind of hours are we talking? What does a PLC leader invest of their time, above and beyond their regular job, for that $2,000?” asked Schachtner. Twenty-one PLC leaders equates to $42,000 of the district’s budget. “Like everything else we want to see what kind of value we’re getting. It’s important, it’s a significant part of our budget. I’m just trying to put a cost effectiveness to this,” said Schachtner. Schachtner’s line of questioning made sense in light of the evening’s most important discussion, a decision by the board to take on a deficit for the 2016-17 school year.Minus two members, the board voted unanimously to incur an estimated deficit of $120,000 in the 2016-17 preliminary expenditure budget to accommodate the hiring of two full-time equivalents (teachers), one for the high school and one for the elementary school. “I’m personally very concerned about it from the financial perspective and from the community perception of it due to our lack of success with the referendum. But there’s also the view that we did suggest the budget could be a negative $120,000 and that would be very close to what it could cost to hire two full-time employees,” said board Vice President Marie Colbeth. With summer nearly half over, Colbeth also felt it was important for the board to act now despite the absence of board President Bob Gunther and board member Brian Moulton.

“I wanted us to wait until Dr. Bezek could be here, but I also recognize Dr. Kamrath’s staffing concerns. The sooner we make this decision, the better served the teachers and the students will be,” said Colbeth. “We don’t like to deficit spend, that is not our intent. It probably means setting something else aside this year, but this is where our values are, correct?” Colbeth’s fellow board members responded affirmatively. Other businessThe board announced the district has again been awarded an AODA grant worth approximately $14,500. The money will support variety of programs targeting student issues with drug and alcohol as well as staff training and student retreats. The board announced that the district also received a $1,200 grant from the St. Croix Valley Foundation also to be applied toward programs that address student mental health, issues with addiction and Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training.Value of teachers outweighs balanced budgetMonday night’s school board meeting in Somerset opened amid an air of fiscal inquisition. Board member Patty Schachtner repeatedly asked teachers and principals to estimate the number of hours Professional Learning Community (PLC) leaders spend fulfilling their responsibilities in exchange for the $2,000 stipend they receive.“What kind of hours are we talking? What does a PLC leader invest of their time, above and beyond their regular job, for that $2,000?” asked Schachtner. Twenty-one PLC leaders equates to $42,000 of the district’s budget. “Like everything else we want to see what kind of value we’re getting. It’s important, it’s a significant part of our budget. I’m just trying to put a cost effectiveness to this,” said Schachtner. Schachtner’s line of questioning made sense in light of the evening’s most important discussion, a decision by the board to take on a deficit for the 2016-17 school year.Minus two members, the board voted unanimously to incur an estimated deficit of $120,000 in the 2016-17 preliminary expenditure budget to accommodate the hiring of two full-time equivalents (teachers), one for the high school and one for the elementary school. “I’m personally very concerned about it from the financial perspective and from the community perception of it due to our lack of success with the referendum. But there’s also the view that we did suggest the budget could be a negative $120,000 and that would be very close to what it could cost to hire two full-time employees,” said board Vice President Marie Colbeth. With summer nearly half over, Colbeth also felt it was important for the board to act now despite the absence of board President Bob Gunther and board member Brian Moulton.

“I wanted us to wait until Dr. Bezek could be here, but I also recognize Dr. Kamrath’s staffing concerns. The sooner we make this decision, the better served the teachers and the students will be,” said Colbeth. “We don’t like to deficit spend, that is not our intent. It probably means setting something else aside this year, but this is where our values are, correct?” Colbeth’s fellow board members responded affirmatively. Other businessThe board announced the district has again been awarded an AODA grant worth approximately $14,500. The money will support variety of programs targeting student issues with drug and alcohol as well as staff training and student retreats. The board announced that the district also received a $1,200 grant from the St. Croix Valley Foundation also to be applied toward programs that address student mental health, issues with addiction and Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training.

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