ST. STEPHEN -- The Sartell-St. Stephen school district has slashed $1.3 million from next year's budget.

As we didn't pass our levy we needed to find a way to balance our budget.  This gets us very close to balanced.  We still have a little bit of a deficit in this year, but this gets us very close at $1.3.

Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert says the only change from the budget reductions approved by the school board Monday and the recommendations the board rejected a week ago is instead of cutting a teacher from the elementary Academic Extensions program they eliminated a 4th-grade teaching position.

We have guidelines as to what the size of a class should be and our current guidelines are 25 to 30 in the 4th grade.  As you heard one of our teachers talk earlier it is unusual for us to get to the high end of that, but the board just took a step back and said that's within the policy.

By going from the current six 4th grade sections this year down to five next year, class sizes could be as high as 29 or 30 students. Schwiebert says, if enough new 4th grade students enter the district to raise the overall class to 148 students or more, they'll add that sixth section back.

Schwiebert says for now one of the 4th-grade teachers will be shifted to an open teaching position at another grade level, so they won't have to terminate anyone.

The reductions approved by the school board also include cuts to transportation, administrative staff, and support staff.

Voters in the Sartell-St. Stephen school district voted down an operating levy in November of last year which would have generated nearly $1.8 million in new revenue. The school board is considering asking the voters again to approve a levy possibly this fall, but that decision has not been made yet.