2012 Year in Review: EducationNew leadership in District 833; Crosswinds could change hands; Liberty Ridge Elementary Site 2 opens; District 834 cuts $6.3 million from budget
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
New leadership in District 833
District 833 saw a new leader come forth in 2012.
Keith Jacobus was named the new superintendent of schools in May of 2012 after former superintendent Mark Porter’s contract was not renewed by District 833 School Board in January of 2011.
Jacobus, 54, came to District 833 after having worked as an assistant superintendent in the Osseo Area School District.
Since his hiring in May, Jacobus has spent time visiting school and acclimating himself to District 833.
Crosswinds could change hands
The end of 2012 saw discussion of one of Woodbury’s choice schools being taken up by District 833.
District 833 discussed the possibility of taking over Crosswinds Arts and Science School in Woodbury in November.
Faced with the inability to financially sustain Crosswinds and its other school, Harmbee Elementary, the EMID School Board decided to offer the builidngs to any of the 10 school districts that belong to EMID.
Crosswinds houses a voluntary magnet program that integrates students in grades 6-10 from urban and suburban districts.
District 833 submitted a plan to take over the school, however the EMID board felt the plan was incomplete.
Since District 833’s plan was incomplete, and was the only district to step forward, the EMID board members opted to open up the search to any and all interested parties. Other entities recently emerged to compete for Crosswinds.
The postponement will give District 833 more time to develop its plan.
EMID Superintendent Janet Mohr said the board will have to make a decision by January whether or not to accept District 833’s plan to acquire Crosswinds, look at other governance options or close the school altogether at the end of the current school year.
Liberty Ridge Elementary Site 2 opens
Liberty Ridge Elementary saw a bit of excitement in the fall of 2012 when its second building, Liberty Ridge Site 2, opened to students.
Liberty Ridge’s second building, which houses its kindergarten and early education programs, opened on Sept. 6 and includes five classrooms, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, an all-purpose room and its own playground.
Site 2 also has its own heath assistants and school nurse.
District 833 approved the second Liberty Ridge building in 2011 because the school was on track to outgrow its current building.
The district purchased a leased space near the school, which the school has previously been using for overflow kindergarten classes, and added 12,500 square feet for $4.5 million.
The district financed two-thirds of the project with a lease levy with the remainder paid for with approximately $1 million left from the 2006 construction bond issue and $100,000 a year from the annual $6 million the district gets for operating and repairing buildings and grounds.
Earlier this summer, the Site 2 construction suffered a setback when 20 60-foot trusses collapsed while workers were installing them. One worker received minor injuries in the collapse.
District 834 cuts $6.3 million from budget
Stillwater Area Schools saw made significant cuts to its budget in early 2012.
District 834 cut a total of $6.3 million from its operating budget to reflect a deficit and shortfall.
In November 2011, District 834 was tasked with making $10 million in cuts when a levy request seeking additional funding failed.
For several months, a 32-member Budget Adjustment Advisory Committee reviewed a list of more than 200 items and narrowed the list to 41 areas that could receive cuts for the 2012-2013 school year.
The areas fall under the categories of calendar adjustments, transportation, class sizes, co-curricular activities, staff reductions, supplies and materials, fees and revenue.
However, in February District 834 learned the required budget cuts shrunk to $6 million.
The decrease in projected budget cuts stemmed from the discovery of a surplus of funds at the end of the school year as well as changes in the district’s borrowing and fund balances.
The first tier of cuts contained $2 million in cuts and an additional $2 million in one-time budget transfers.
The second tier of cuts, totaling, $2.3 million included: fee increases, staff reductions, class size increases, district department budget reductions and salary decreases for custodial staff.
The second tier also includes an increase in district advertising and a change in the district’s transportation model to increase efficiency.
The final tier of cuts, which totals $246,600, included cutting special education positions, where allowed by law, and moving specialist sections from a 30-minute to 25-minute slot.