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Lower enrollment may mean teacher cuts

Teacher cuts may occur next year in the Lake Superior School District.

Superintendent Phil Minkkinen told school board members at a meeting Thursday that due to fewer students, the district may have to reduce staffing. The school board passed a resolution directing administrators at all schools to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions. Minkkinen said the main concern is at Minnehaha Elementary in Two Harbors, where there will likely be no need for three teachers for fourth grade next year.

"We're not going to make cuts immediately," Minkkinen said.

Nothing was set in stone about reductions at the meeting.

"I would hope we would look at it very carefully," said school board member Dwight Moe.

The district has not made staffing cuts in four years.

"The only thing that would allow for cuts is changes in student enrollment," said Leo Babeu, school board chair.

In September, Minkkinen said there are 70 new students enrolled in the district and it should help the budget and lead to more effective class sizes.

Silver Bay had seen an increase of 40 students, while Two Harbors' two campuses saw more modest gains.

Old football field

The school board approved a resolution handing over the old football field near the campground expansion development by Burlington Bay, which is contingent upon leasing the property back to the district.

The resolution states that the city conveyed the property to the district in 1960 to be used exclusively for recreational activities. The city wants the property for a new sewer main and future recreational and commercial development.

The district has plans to phase out the property for school activities. The resolution asks the district to return the property to the city contingent upon an agreement that the city leases the property to the district for $1 a year for a term not less than 10 years.

According to the lease agreement, it would last for 10 years, which drew some criticism from school board members.

Board member Cyndi Ryder said wheels don't turn that fast and would have liked to have seen a longer period of time for the lease. She voted against the measure, as did Babeu.

Minkkinen said a shorter time frame forces the district to make some changes. The bus garage also sits on the property and will likely be moved in the future.