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Impact of WDC cuts softened by land deal

With District 2155 looking at its eighth straight year of cuts, school administrators have come up with an eye-catching proposal.

According to WDC superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom, it may be possible this year to find the $236,000 they must trim through retirements and the sale of 55 acres of land.

Six WDC teachers have indicated that they are interested in retirement at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. Since the salary of a veteran teacher is greater than a young teacher, the retirements could save the district approximately $118,000, according to business manager Jerry Anderson.

Dahlstrom also told the board that M State-Wadena is interested in buying a 55-acre tract of land on the south side of Wadena which the college's electrical lineworkers program has been using.

"Given that we do have a number of individuals who are retiring and we are looking at selling property to Minnesota State-Wadena, I'd like to go through that rather than putting our staff through a brutal process which they have gone through before," Dahlstrom said.

The sale of the land is expected to net the district $140,000.

The district has already made $4.3 million in cuts in the last eight years according to WDC elementary principal Louie Rutten.

WDC's student population determines the amount of funding the district receives each year and that population has been declining in recent years, a problem shared by most of the school districts in the state.

Dahlstrom has pointed out that WDC's declining population has been leveling off. This year's student body in k-12 stood at 1,001 -- a decrease of just five students from the first day of the 2009-2010 school year.

The board approved a motion to keep the administration's budget reduction proposal on the table contingent on the sale of the land, which is expected to be completed by the end of February, and the retirements. If not, the usual seven-step reduction program will be enacted to reduce the budget.