About a year and a half ago, we began to realize that our reserve fund was shrinking every year... And we felt that we had maybe three or four years before we really were going to end up in the red if we didn't do something...And then Covid came along...Tim Lutz, Bemidji Area Schools Superintendent
In this segment of Let's Visit, Tim Lutz, Superintendent of Bemidji Area Schools since 2018, breaks down some complicated factors affecting his district’s budget and future financial security. Lutz also discusses effects Covid-19 has had on funding sources, costs associated with the virus, and lessons learned by navigating these uncharted waters.
We can't cut our way to success...I'd like people to recognize that what we have here is not the result of irresponsible spending. We don't have a spending problem, per say, but a funding problem, a funding shortage problem...- Tim Lutz, Bemidji Area Schools Superintendent
Covid-19 has added new stresses to the budget and operations of the district including a change in the district status of 280 students as well as modifications to state and federal budgets. Covid-19 has also presented many chances for schools to look at challenges with curiosity and as such see opportunities...
We've learned that we can do..We have learned that if we develop a plan and stick to it with integrity and fidelity, we can keep students and staff safe...We've also learned a lot about the power of technology and how to tap into that technology even after the pandemic is over. We're working on a plan now to continue a distance learning academy so that students who find it difficult for whatever reason to be in school all day, every day will be able to utilize a distance academy. Not only our students, students from other districts who might not have the opportunity to register for a class because that class doesn't exist or is full...We’ve also learned... the importance of interaction with teachers and being in school every day in terms of the power of supporting students and families socially and emotionally and academically. - Tim Lutz, Bemidji Area Schools Superintendent
To date, approximately 20% of the ISD 31 staff have been vaccinated for Covid-19.
So, every day we're getting closer to that day, we'll come back to school, come back to normalcy and have these connections again in a good and a normal way for kids and staff. Kids miss their teachers and each other and we miss our students. - Tim Lutz, Bemidji Area Schools Superintendent