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Minot Public Schools Reintegration Plan to be presented Wednesday | News, Sports, Jobs

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Mark Vollmer, superintendent, will present the Minot Public Schools Reintegration Plan on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at three different times; 12 noon, 3 p.m. and 6:30 p,m. These meetings will be done virtually. There will be an opportunity for people to provide input and ask questions on this link: https://forms.gle/ifmNL3ZbDcKJRuSV6 when the presentation begins.

MPS School Reintegration Virtual Meeting – 12 p.m. Aug. 5, https://youtu.be/N9HQ4LalMOo

MPS School Reintegration Virtual Meeting – 3 p.m. Aug. 5, https://youtu.be/QDhXLfO6xOk

MPS School Reintegration Virtual Meeting – 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5, https://youtu.be/fKEd56kX6J0

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State budget cuts to impact GJSD | News, Sports, Jobs

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JOHNSTOWN — A 20 percent state aid reduction for the Greater Johnstown School District could result in a nearly $5 million gap in the district’s budget by the end of the 2020-21 school year.

That scenario, which officials say might result in layoffs, was presented by district administrators to the Board of Education Thursday night.

But district officials say the city school system might be able to sustained half as much of a reduction in state aid, without layoffs.

District Interim Superintendent Karen Geelan and Assistant Superintendent Ruthie Cook reported to the board that the Johnstown school district still doesn’t have a true grasp of how much aid may be cut. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state previously said publicly that a 20 percent reduction in state aid to school districts might be in the offing.

Geelan said the district has heard of immediate state aid cuts, which results in an $89,000 shortfall. She said that would have been able to pay for 255 Chromebooks for remote learning for district students.

But Geelan said a further analysis shows that if a 20 percent state aid reduction comes to fruition over the next six months, the Johnstown district budget will have a $4.8 million hole by year’s end.

The district has just come through two full years of budget uncertainty and is now dealing with COVID.

On July 28, district voters approved a $38.9 million 2020-21 district budget in a revote, which had a 5 tax levy increase. The district is in a three-year financial plan and has hoped to keep taxes down again for the next school year’s budget.

The tax levy increase of 5 percent exceeded the statutory levy increase of negative 2.02 percent for the 2020-21 school fiscal year and therefore exceeded the state tax cap. If the revote had failed, the district would have had to a contingency budget. The previous school year, district voters eventually approved a budget with a 14 percent tax levy hike, but athletics was eliminated. Athletics was restored for this school year.

Cook noted media outlets are now saying the state may not impose a 20 percent state aid cut on school districts. But she said if the computation was lower — or about 10 percent — the district would be able to sustain the financial blow without layoffs.

“We should be able to avoid these things,” Cook said.

In that scenario, Geelan said the district has “got it covered.”

Cook said the district estimated it can use fund balance and some reserves — under certain guidelines– to offset a lesser state aid reduction nearly half as much as 20 percent.

She said the state comptroller is telling school districts that during the pandemic they can borrow from their own reserves and pay themselves back. She said the district has applied for CARES Act money, for which it may be eligible for up to $420,000. In addition, she said the district may be able to use unassigned fund balance to bridge gaps.

Cook said that like other school districts, Johnstown faces uncertainty moving ahead. To meet the issue of a huge reduction in state aid, she said the district may have to do three main things: “underspending” the budget, make reductions, and utilizing reserves.

“The financial effects of this pandemic cook be three to five years,” Cook said.

Geelan said that whatever happens on the state aid front, the district should not abandon its prudent financial plan.

“It really is important to stick with that critical mission,” she said.

She sad the district is going to realize some savings through athletics not played initially, but some sports weren’t canceled but rather postponed.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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‘10,000 jobs at risk’ if Sizewell C not approved

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Some 10,000 jobs are at risk if the government does not approve the Sizewell C nuclear power station, a group has warned.

The Sizewell C Coalition, which is made up of around 100 organisations including companies like Mace, Laing O’Rourke and Bam Nuttall, said up to 10,000 specialist construction and engineering jobs are at risk if the EDF plant is not given the go-ahead.

Analysis released by the group found a quarter to a third of jobs could be at risk across the whole nuclear supply chain.

The warning comes days after Hitachi confirmed its withdrawal from the UK market and ended its work at the planned Wylfa and Oldbury plants.

Sizewell C Consortium spokesperson Cameron Gilmour said: “For the first time in a generation, the UK has developed a world-class nuclear construction and engineering supply chain. Without Sizewell C, we will not sustain it – and thousands of jobs could be lost as a result.

“This is not a viable option for Britain. Government needs to get on with giving the green light to Sizewell C.”

Sizewell C, a joint project of French energy company EDF and Chinese firm CGN, would be built on similar plans as Hinkley Point C, the firms’ project currently under construction in Somerset. An application for a development consent order was submitted for approval in May.

Unite national officer for energy Peter McIntosh said: “It is essential that a skills bridge is created from Hinkley Point, being constructed in Somerset, to Sizewell, to ensure that the skills and the knowledge that have been acquired on the initial project can be transferred to Sizewell and are not lost to the country’s skill base.”

He added: “Unite repeats its call to business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Alok Sharma to bring forward the long-awaited energy White Paper. This will guarantee that nuclear power is a vital part of the energy ‘mix’ in the years ahead, creating a source of ‘clean’ and reliable electricity, as well as a new generation of skilled ‘green’ employment.”

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Slow and steady | News, Sports, Jobs

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-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson

While following a slow-moving vehicle like the combine shown above can test a driver’s patience, it’s important to drive carefully when sharing the road with farm equipment.

Abiding by the Iowa State Patrol’s advice of slow down, put your phone down and buckle up is more important than ever as motorists are beginning to share the road with farm equipment this fall.

“We know harvest season is upon us and the advice we would give to both farmers and the motoring public is to make sure you are visible,” said Paul Gardner, an Iowa State Patrol trooper. “Make sure you are driving defensively. Look down the road to see what is ahead of you.”

Farm equipment operators, Gardner said, need to be sure to be equipped with a slow moving vehicle sign if they are traveling 35 mph or less. While traveling at night they need to ensure they have working lights so motorists can see them as they approach the large equipment as well as meeting them on the road.

Remembering to yield at stop at stop signs is also important.

“When you are coming up to an intersection, make sure you are yielding to traffic,” he said. “Stop signs still apply to those who are operating tractors and other farm implements.”

Be sure to share the road.

“Share the road and watch for other vehicles,” said Gardner. “If a large equipment operator can safely do it, they should get over as much as they can. Give people enough room to pass. We encourage you to don’t try to get traffic backed up behind you as much as possible and try to choose the routes that don’t have as much traffic.”

As for the motoring public, Gardner said they also need to be aware of their surroundings while traveling on rural roadways.

“Just know there are going to be tractors and combines out working the fields this fall,” he said.

When approaching a slow moving vehicle, Gardner said it is imperative to give them plenty of room.

“Don’t crowd them. Don’t follow them too closely because if they have to stop all of a sudden, or if you are out passing them and they make a turn in front of you, that is going to be bad for both vehicles involved,” he said. “Obviously, the bigger the tractor, the worse it is going to be for the car.”

No passing zones, Gardner said still apply when passing farm implements.

“Just because they are going slower, it is still illegal to pass on the double yellow lines,” he said. “You may be coming up on a hill and think you can get around them, but you need to be watching out for oncoming traffic.”

By keeping your phone down and your eyes looking ahead that should help noticing a slow moving vehicle in plenty of time to slow down.

“Don’t be distracted. Make sure you are aware of what is ahead of you. You may not see them right away and you may come across a tractor pretty quickly and it may be too late to slow down or too late to stop,” he said.

Studies have shown speeding in the state of Iowa has increased over this last year.

“Speeds that are 21 miles per hour and greater than the speed limit have increased 50 percent this year compared to last year,” he said.

Speeding can make stopping for a slow moving vehicle even more difficult.

“Sometimes on the back roads, you get somebody who has an open road and they don’t see anybody, they put the hammer down and they may not see a slow moving vehicle pull out and it will be too late to slow down,” he said.

Gardner says to just be patient.

“They are going to move slow because obviously they are meant to go slow,” he said. “As soon as it is safe to pass and you can get around them please do so. Be careful. The farmer may be making a turn into a farm drive or another roadway and they may turn right in front of you.”

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