This chart shows staffing at Hastings schools compared to the average of schools in the Metropolitan Cooperative Educational Service Unit. ECSU numbers are from pre-COVID-19.
Staffing cuts, new middle school fees will help balance school district budget

By John McLoone

The Hastings School Board reviewed plans to tackle an expected $1.3 million budget deficit for the 2022-23 school year at its meeting last Tuesday night.

Superintendent Dr. Robert McDowell presented a proposal that at this time calls for use of $650,000 in district fund balance, and some cutbacks in staffing to balance the budget.

Also, the district is proposing to start charging fees for middle school athletics/ activities. McDowell said Hastings is one of just a few districts that do not charge fees for middle school extra-curricular participation.

Staffing changes at this time would be cutting three elementary full-time equivalency positions at a savings of $234,000, 3.18 FTE positions in the middle school to save $248,040 and a .5 FTE high school position at a savings of $39,000.

The district is also hoping to save $250,000 through “secondary programming adjustments,” such as eyeing staffing efficiencies “both in and out of the classroom,” as well as offering low registration classes less frequently.

A presentation was scheduled for a school board work session this week to “finalize line by line options.” A final board decision could be made at its Dec. 8 meeting or at an optional Dec. 15 meeting if revisions were still being made.

McDowell said the decision needs to be made in December to allow for planning for the next school year.

We really need to have the big decisions made so they can get going on those registration guides,” he said. See STAFFING CUTS Page 3 He warned that because staffing changes could come, “You could start hearing stuff. This is that kind of yucky time of the conversation.”

Board Chair Kelsey Waits thanked McDowell and the staff for its work on putting the proposals together.

“I want to say thank you for your effort on this. It’s a whole team effort,” she said.

The district put together a “guiding change” document last year that took a look at how to tackle budget adjustments. The desired results from that process included: “A balanced and sustainable budget through 2024.”

“Decisions will be made with an equity lens and a lens of removing systemic racism.”

“Mental Health programming and support will be overtly recognizable.”

“Class sizes at or slightly higher than the mean of regional Metro ECSU (Cooperative Educational Service Unit), if sustainable.”

Average staffing at Metro ECSU schools is shown on the included chart.

December 1, 2021