WINONA, Minn. - The Winona area public school district is facing major budget cuts and is being forced to wrestle with some tough decisions.
The district has to cut $1.5 million from its budget for the next school year, and that means the school board has to decide where that money will come from.
Some area parents are worried these cuts could have a big impact on school sports and activities.
Earlier this month, the school district held public forums to get community input on where the cuts should be made.
"Our kids are our future,” said Winona resident Julie Boelter, who took part in the discussion.
All three of Boelter's kids have gone to Winona area public schools.
"They all participated in athletics and activities and band and things like that,” she said.
Her youngest son, still a junior, is in band and sports, and Boelter said that they mean everything to him.
So hearing sports and activities could be on the chopping block because of budget cuts has her and other parents worried.
"I think it'd be like cutting the throat of the public schools there,” Boelter said.
Interim superintendent Kelly Halvorsen said the looming budget reduction is years in the making.
"It just has piled up to the point where we're at a perfect storm and have to look at our finances,” she said.
The school board is looking at cuts in many areas, including staffing, administration, transportation, maintenance, athletics and activities.
"We try our very best to keep the cuts away from the classroom without having direct impact on kiddos,” Halvorsen said. “When you get to $1.5 million range, ultimately everything is going to have an impact on someone or something."
Halvorsen said no cuts are official or public yet, but plans are underway.
"I think we've put together some things that everyone will be asked to do a little more with less, instead of saying we no longer have you or have this happening,” she said.
Keeping all programs in some form would be welcome news for Boelter, who said activities such as school sports give Winona life.
"When you turn around and see almost the whole town of Winona at (a) game, you're not just impacting the kids. You’re impacting the entire community,” she said.
On Thursday, Halvorsen said she will present the administration's recommendations on what should be cut to the school board. Then, on April 6, the board can vote.
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