The Laporte School Board held a special meeting last week to discuss what the district needs to do to get back in the black financially and also about the near-collapse of a portion of the roof during school that could have been disastrous.
During school March 22, the kindergarten classrooms had to be evacuated when the ceiling panels began to bow because of all the snow on the roof. Crews were brought in to remove the snow, which in places measured between 10 and 12 feet.
The roof did not collapse and once the snow was all removed, it bounced back into place. When that section of the roof was installed in 1974, beams were put in place every 26 feet, which was the requirement. That has since been changed to 16 feet.
The board is waiting on an engineer’s report before it can proceed with fixing the roof this summer, which will be expensive.
There was also some discussions that part of the community garden raised beds were damaged as crews removed all the snow off the roof, which was unavoidable.
Turning to fiscal matters, no decisions were made at the meeting on what cuts will be made, but several ideas were discussed.
With nearly $200,000 in deficit spending, the board needs to tighten the purse strings to get out of the red. Heating and rising transportation costs are two of the big issues Laporte faces, as do many school districts around the state.
Reducing coaches and the number of paraprofessionals; going from six to five bus routes or going with a bus service; reducing the monthly Laporte Newsletter from nine issues to five; and co-oping in some sports were ideas to save the district money that were discussed.
The retirement of two paras at the March 11 meeting helps the district through attrition.
Superintendent Kim Goodwin was given permission to talk with Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School administration about the possibility of co-oping with them in some sports starting this fall. The board did say they were in favor of having a Laporte coach remain on the team, some games played in Laporte and keeping no athlete fees for Laporte students.
Going back to a seven-period school day and changing from semesters back to quarters was also discussed. The administration still needs more input from staff on this idea, which allows the district to cover more classes with the same number of teachers. This would be for sixth- through 12th-grade students.
The negatives include more classes and homework for students and teachers would have to prep for more classes.
Over the coming months, the board, administration and staff will discuss and come up with solutions to save the district money.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board approved a resolution not to renew tier-two teacher JoAnn Stute at the end of the school year. At a previous board meeting the administration recommended the cut to the board, which it approved.
“This is very difficult. It’s a personnel decision and not personal. This makes it so hard in a small community where we know everyone,” said board member Sue Olson.