District continues to work toward slimming budget by reducing staff

The Bemidji Area School Board unanimously passed a measure that would reduce the budget for licensed staff by about $1.6 million.

Human Resources director Jordan Hickman said these reductions were due to budgetary shortfalls, licensure issues, shifting enrollments and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A number of the reductions are related to the closure of Central Elementary, as are some staff additions in other elementary schools.

Bemidji Middle School will have three pods in each grade level, only reducing the current 7th grade’s three-and-a-half pods.

In total, about four full time teachers were cut from Bemidji High School, two teachers were cut from BMS, and almost two full-time positions were cut from the Alternative Education Center and Paul Bunyan Center.

Twenty-one teachers were cut at the elementary school level, but eight full-time teachers were added as well as a part-time principal at J.W. Smith.

At least $500,000 in cuts have already been made with non-licensed staff, which didn’t need the board’s approval.

The district’s closure of Central Elementary is projected to reduce expenses by about $460,000, with $5.6 million in total that needs cutting from the budget.

The board also approved elementary boundary changes discussed at a prior work session that details how many students from each grade will move to each school, depending on where they live in Bemidji.

Watch the full school board meeting here.

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