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Published November 07, 2013, 09:14 PM

Grand Forks schools IDs cuts: Officials say schools can avoid deficit budget

Grand Forks Public Schools officials have identified $1.03 million in cuts that will allow the school district to avoid deficit spending this school year, none of which affect teaching staff or student programs, the district’s finance committee said Thursday.

By: Jennifer Johnson, Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks Public Schools officials have identified $1.03 million in cuts that will allow the school district to avoid deficit spending this school year, none of which affect teaching staff or student programs, the district’s finance committee said Thursday.

Energy efficiency, discretionary travel and professional development were among the areas hundreds of the district’s employees agreed could be reduced, according to a survey.

However, the district is placing a “soft freeze” on hires in 2013-2014. Vacancies will be more closely examined to see if and how the position needs to be filled, said Business Manager Vicky Schwartz.

Some of the major cuts included a $200,000 cut from the district technology budget and a $162,500 cut in school supplies and discretionary food purchases.

The district’s School Board recently came under fire by the public for proposing a 28.6-percent property tax increase and later reduced it to 21.6 percent.

A few members of the finance committee said they wanted to improve transparency.

School Board Vice President Mike St. Onge suggested that Schwartz provide more detailed financial information so board members “don’t just approve” the budget but have a greater understanding of it.

“We’re trying to make this a transparency issue,” he said.

This was the first meeting of the district’s finance committee, which was approved in late August by the School Board.

Historically, the district has never had such a committee, but board President Vicki Ericson suggested the creation of one so the board could stay more informed about federal and state education policy, said Superintendent Larry Nybladh.

The committee agreed to present its findings to the School Board for action at the next meeting on Nov. 12.

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