SARTELL -- The Sartell-St. Stephen School District is going over some possibly difficult options as they look to make ends meet after voters rejected a proposed levy last fall.

The school board approved a reduction of $1.25-million in spending Monday night.

Sartell is looking at a number of different ideas to reduce their spending. Activities, transportation, k-12 staffing and technology are all being looked at. The district says it's determined to make sure the student classroom experience isn't harmed.

Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert says staffing cuts are unavoidable.

"One of the things to recognize, even though we don't want to reduce people, 85% of our budget is people, so we will be reducing some people, but we're going to minimize it as much as we can."

No specifics have been decided yet. Schwiebert says administrative staff will be reduced, six FTE's may be reduced,  and the district will not fill a teaching spot for next year after five teachers took advantage of an early retirement notification incentive. 

Schwiebert says the district will be raising activities fees in the near future.

"We're raising activities fees. We compared ourselves and the rest of our conference and we're currently at the bottom. We won't be at the top, but we'll be in the top three."

Schwiebert says they may try again at another referendum to get the needed funding.

In the November elections, the district asked voters to approve the referendum which would have replaced the existing operating levy and raised the cost to taxpayers.  District officials said the extra money was needed, in part, to run the new high school opening in the fall of 2019.

The district says they had to separate the operating levy from the school's construction levy because state law does not allow construction funds to be used for the operation of the school. 

Voters overwhelmingly opposed the levy, defeating the measure 60% to 40%.

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