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Board compromises, gives $10k for summer recreation

The Wadena-Deer Creek school board voted to provide the Community Education Board with $10,000 Monday evening, April 20, for the 2009 Summer Recreation season.

Community Education funded $26,000 of the summer recreation program's $74,000 budget last year.

Faced with coming up with an additional $200,000 in cuts to the $590,000 already voted upon by the board for the 2009-10 school year -- yet still finding a way to fund the junior high athletics program -- WDC superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom has been looking for creative ways to fund programs.

Dahlstrom said she would prefer to base joint funding for community education on money the school knows it has -- rather than what it might receive from the state. The city has traditionally provided the "up front" money to the school for community education until state funds become available. The uncertain financial situation of the state has complicated this arrangement, in Dahlstrom's opinion.

"We are truly unsure of what funding we are going to have for community education," said Dahlstrom, adding that state funding of community education is dropping all over Minnesota.

Dahlstrom presented the board with an opinion from the Minneapolis law firm of Kennedy and Gravin at Monday night's meeting that the district can legally transfer funds from community education to fund programs like middle school sports.

Chairwoman Ann Pate opened the public comment portion of the meeting after Dahlstrom spoke, and several members of the community voiced their concerns and opinions, including Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden and council members Don Niles and Toby Pierce. The school board was urged several times to take immediate action.

Following Monday's decision, Dahlstrom said one board member came forward with a possible way of securing the additional $5,000 the community education board needs for summer rec, in the form of a grant.

"We are going to work hard to keep the activities," Dahlstrom said.

Deer Creek's summer rec program is in good shape according to Community Education Director Sandie Rentz.