Huge deficit forces BEA board to make cuts

Local News

Whether or not the Open Meeting Law (OML) was violated, Blue Earth Area School Board approved several staff cuts due to next year’s budget deficit of more than $800,000.

A special meeting was held Thursday by video-teleconference because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the state’s OML, a notice of a special meeting must be published in the district’s official newspaper and posted three days before it is held. One media outlet indicates they were first notified on Wednesday.

Board members voted to eliminate high school principal Greg Ewing’s position and cut one teacher in math, science, social studies, English language arts, music and first grade; one social worker; and reduce the English Language Learner position to half-time.

Six probationary teachers — Christy Duncan, Caitlin Galagan, JoAnna Helgeson, Conan Shaffer, Katie Kaluza and Noah Anderson — will not have their contracts renewed at the end of this school year.

In addition, high school science teacher Mark Franta and K-5 social worker Kelly Bleess were placed on unrequested leave of absence on grounds of lack of pupils, financial limitations and discontinuance of position. was unable to obtain from Superintendent Mandy Fletcher the dollar amount the cuts actually totaled.

Fletcher also was asked whether district officials are considering any pay freezes or cuts for administrators, teachers or other staff.

Future monthly board meetings, such as the April 13 meeting, will be held by telephone or other electronic means during the COVID-19 pandemic and peacetime emergency.

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