The projected 2019-20 budget is less grim for the Lake Superior School District.

The predicted deficit has been reduced from a predicted $693,000 to $71,000. The board was presented with these changes at a workshop meeting Monday, June 3. Business manager Sara Girard said this change is due to a few changes, including the increase of state aid districts will receive to 2 percent.

"Another big component from the state are some changes they've made to special education subsidies where we'll also receive more money," Girard said.

Girard said they'd also seen some staffing changes which will save the district money. One change includes shifting an Alternative Deliver of Specialized Instructional Services position from a full-time dedicated staff member to other teachers stepping into that role. Another includes removing the sixth-grade teachers put in place at both William Kelley and Two Harbors High School at the beginning of last year. This year's sixth-grade classes are not large enough to warrant these two positions as the average class size will range between 15 and 20 students.

These changes, along with the reduction in supply and capital discretionary funds per school, will bring the district to the $71,000 deficit.

Superintendent Bill Crandall presented a few options which would help bring the deficit down to zero. These include custodial changes and bus route changes; a proposed district-wide 1 percent reduction in extracurriculars; asking the teachers' union for half of the 2 percent set aside in the general budget for staff development; reductions in curriculum purchases; and cutting classes if they contain fewer than six or possibly 12 students, depending on how many reductions are needed.

Of these options, the board provided direction to the Crandall and Girard to pursue the transportation changes, custodial reduction and the 1 percent district-wide reduction in extracurricular spending.

Board still considering an operating referendum

The second item up for discussion at the workshop included whether or not the board wanted to pursue an operating referendum this election cycle. The district would end up covering all the costs for the election, up to $30,000, as it would likely be the only question on the ballot this fall. Crandall asked if the board wanted to pursue the referendum this year or hold back a year.

"Something to consider, though, as I read earlier today, referendum questions posed during a presidential election year are more likely to fail," Crandall said. "So it might cost less and give us more time to get organized if you were to wait, but it could also increase the chances of it failing."

The board asked for direction from the district regarding a rationale for a possible referendum.

"We're tired of cutting, cutting cutting, but we should have the referendum be program specific or something, because if we say we're doing this to maintain our program, it'll never pass," board member Cyndi Ryder said.

The referendum question is expected to be addressed again at the school board meeting Tuesday, June 11.