Mohon adopts $42.9M budget, 2.5 percent tax increase

19 teachers cut after pay freezes and concessions help save some positions

The Mohonasen Board of Education settled on a $42.9 million 2011-12 budget, which leaves residents with a 2.5 percent tax hike in an effort to maintain programming.

Following several budget presentations and public forums before developing a budget, the district saw an increase in state aid of $431,000 and salary freezes and concessions from bargaining units of approximately $525,000. The proposed budget includes a spending increase of 0.043 percent or $184,391 and was approved by the board on Monday, April 18.

We've always prided ourselves on being fiscally prudent and responsible with taxpayer dollars, said Superintendent Kathleen Spring. "As a result, our budget has been bare bones for many years. When you combine this with a more than $3 million loss in our state operating aid, we had no other choice but to make significant budget cuts for next year."

District officials looked at cutting nearly 59 full-time equivalent positions district-wide to reach a zero percent tax levy increase, but the approved budget includes 34.5 FTE position cuts; of those passed cuts are 19 teachers, four teaching assistants, nine support staff and 2.5 administration positions.

Budget forums helped the board shape what would be cut or reduced in the budget, with parents and faculty members concerned about class sizes increasing.

Enrollment in kindergarten through sixth grade is projected to drop in most grades. Except for third grade, class sizes next year are expected to increase. While kindergarten will lose one section, increasing the average class size from 19.4 students per section currently to 21.8, fifth grade is projected to have the largest increase, losing two sections and class sizes increasing by 5 students on average to 25 per section. There are still 1 FTE to be added to K-3 and 4-6 that could help lower class sizes.

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