The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District will lose the equivalent of more than 140 full-time jobs next year as a result of budget cuts approved by the school board on Monday.

The board voted unanimously to approve $15.3 million in budget cuts and revenue boosts for 2010-11, joining the growing list of Minnesota school boards that are slicing services for next year as they brace against a tough economy and a state budget crisis.

Board Member Joel Albright said that making the cuts was the most difficult thing he's had to do on the board, adding that he found himself wondering, "Why is this bothering me so much more than the other budget cuts we've had to do in the past?"

The answer he came up with: "We see what's coming next year, so this has been just the tip of the iceberg."

Roughly half the money in the budget-patching plan -- $7.7 million -- will come from cuts to staffing, with reductions to programs, supplies and operations making up another $3.7 million. The remaining $3.9 million will come from new revenue sources, including increased fees for everything from band instrument rental to driver's education.

The district will cut funding for classroom teachers by the equivalent of 78 entry-level jobs, along with more than 35 teaching specialists and other licensed staff positions. The equivalent of nearly 30 clerical, administrative and other positions will also go.

The cuts approved on Monday looked much as they did when originally presented to the school board two months ago, with a few exceptions.

After collecting public input, board members agreed to increase fees for high school sports and fine arts activities even more than they first planned -- a step they took to avoid eliminating some programs entirely.

District administrators also lessened the cuts they had proposed to counseling staff after learning that their initial plan would have violated a Minnesota law that requires districts to spend at least as much as they did the previous year on social workers, nurses and similar staff.

The board also reinstated some gifted program staffing that had been on the chopping block.

The district is the south metro area's largest, with roughly 27,500 students and a general fund budget of about $298 million this year.

Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016