During the Pequot Lakes School Board work session Monday, May 4, Superintendent Chris Lindholm told the board the biggest question marks going into the 2020-21 school year revolve around fee-based programs.

He said Eagle View Elementary School Principal Melissa Hesch and Community Education Director Rich Spiczka have spoken to the early childhood staff - several of whom are paid for via fees the program brings in - about the uncertainty surrounding the next school year.

“Those staff members have been informed that at this time, to be fair to them, we have no idea what next fall is going to look like,” Lindholm said. “For all we know, we may not be able to run the program, or maybe we can run it but parents may decide they don’t want their kids to go to those programs … We have informed those employees that at this time, there are too many unknowns and we can’t promise them a job.”

Eagle View Elementary School currently has five positions to fill across the school for the coming year, so two interventionist positions are being held at the moment. If necessary, two early childhood teachers can fill those roles for one year.

“That is not a contractual obligation,” Lindholm said. “Our early childhood staff are not a part of the seniority list of the rest of our EMPL (Education Minnesota Pequot Lakes) group, but we feel these are two longtime employees who have done a great job, and we can not have to furlough them if we can avoid that in any way.”

Lindholm said his guess is enrollment in early childhood programs will be down next year due to health issues and fear of health issues.

The district’s paraprofessional staff may also see a reduction, but that is a more common occurrence due to fluctuations of special education students moving into and out of the district. Lindholm said discussions will be had with the staff as a “precautionary measure,” but the hope is no reductions will be necessary.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.