Spring is the time for school districts to develop their budgets for the next school year. These budgets are based on enrollment projections, staff and operating cost increases, academic program plans and assumptions about state funding. Difficult financial decisions are ahead.

As we prepare our 2019-20 budget, we know the following:

  • The bulk of the district’s general fund revenue (72%) comes from the state. Because the Minnesota legislative session is not due to end until May 20, we must make assumptions about how much funding we will receive from the state for next year.
  • The combination of unfunded mandates and inadequate state funding has put increasing pressure on our operating budget.
    • We spend $7.4 million dollars annually out of our general budget to cover costs that are not reimbursed from state or federal sources for special education services.
    • If state funding had kept pace with inflation, we would have received more than $6 million in additional funding this year alone.
    • To help combat this gap, we had to cut $3.5 million in the last three years.
  • No matter what happens with state funding, we will need to make budget cuts moving forward.
  • If we get additional funding from the state and our community approves an operating levy increase in November, it will help – but it is not likely to solve all our financial challenges.
  • Even with responsible budget planning and budget cuts totaling nearly $10 million in the last decade, expenses continue to outpace revenue and strain our operating budget.

The administration and School Board will spend April, May and June carefully reviewing various financial scenarios, cost containment options and next year’s budget to determine what additional funding we may need from our residents in order to present a balanced budget.