Board OKs potential budget cuts

Reductions would occur if voters reject operating levy renewal

The Independent School District 834 Board unanimously approved potential budget cuts for the 2014-2015 school year if voters reject renewal of an operating levy in November.

“Myself and Corey (Superintendent Lunn) keep saying that these cuts are something that we hope we never have to do, but we need something in place so that the public can make an informed decision this fall about what they are voting on.” said Ray Queener, assistant superintendent of business and administrative services.

If voters reject renewing the operating levy, budget cuts include:

Eliminating as many as 50 teaching positions and 25 student support positions including paraprofessional, reading specialists, special education teachers, building administrators, counselors, nurses and clerical staff. This would reduce services and help for struggling students and class sizes would be increased 8-12 students at the Junior High Schools, 5-12 students at the High school and increasing elementary class sizes by 4 students.

Free all-day kindergarten would be eliminated and parents would have to pay $2,900 to $3,500 for an all-day program. An undetermined elementary school would be closed, fewer elective classes offered and music classes in grades 5-12 would be reduced.

“We reworded that to include the 5 through 12 music program so we can have every possible option on the table, including cutting the 10-12 music program, and I feel that that needs to be emphasized to the community as well. I had to have a conversation with my son who would be a sophomore in choir when this would go into effect about how I, as a board member, may have to support that option.” said Amy Burback. “We changed the language from the cutting the 5/6 grade orchestra and band which allows us to include all the options and I can’t imagine Stillwater without it (the music program), but as a community that’s where we’re at.”

Other changes considered are fewer student days or a four-day school week, and transportation for both public and private schools. Drop off times would be extended by an hour and there would be earlier pick-up times. There also would be no transportation for all students living within two miles of their school and no special considerations would be made for hazardous conditions.

“When we were doing meetings at the schools we were told we were preaching to the choir.” said board member Tom Lehmann. “We need to make sure people either not involved in the school district or those who send their kids to other schools in our district know that these cuts don’t only impact our parents but them too and we need everybody to support this because this will impact you as well.”

On the activities side, seventh and eighth grade sports and some junior and senior high clubs would be eliminated and activity fees would increase up to $95 or more per sport. Athletic equipment budgets for all sports would be eliminated and concert ticket prices and community education class fees would be increased.
Up to 15 custodians and groundskeepers would be eliminated and contracts for school resource officers at both Oak-Land and Stillwater junior high schools and private security at the high school would be eliminated.

It should be noted that if the levy is not renewed in the fall, the $11 million in proposed cuts is the known amount. Other cuts totaling $4 million to $6 million are possible due to a budget shortfall from flat state funding, inflation and rising costs. Board members called on the public to help them going forward.

“If we have to go down this road Stillwater will not be the same school district.” said Natasha Fleischman. “I applaud the community members for coming forward and speaking your support earlier tonight but what we need you to do now is to be pounding the pavement all summer and all fall to make sure that everyone understands what could occur. The school district by law is not allowed to run a levy campaign so you won’t be getting any literature from the schools or anything  but if you need information on how to get involved there’s a group that’s already formed and I would be more than happy to give you that information. Your help is the only thing standing between us and these devastating cuts.”

To see the potential cut list in more detail go to

Action groups that have been created regarding the levy can be found at and on Facebook.