Message from the SuperintendentFirst, I would like to thank our community for supporting the school district by passing the first question of our operating levy request on the November ballot. The passage of the first question, which provides an additional $200 per pupil above the expiring levy, helps us avoid a financial crisis, but it does not solve our funding challenges for the future.
As we have communicated to our district community over the past four months, passage of the first question but not the second means that we must continue to cut our budget. For next school year we will have to reduce the budget by another $360,000 on top of the $1.7 million in cuts we have already made over the past four years. These new efficiencies may come through a combination of additional staff reductions, reallocations of dollars from other areas of the budget, and higher fees.
How will these changes be identified and implemented? In the upcoming months we will take the following steps to remain fiscally responsible and maintain as much programming as we possibly can.
1. We will review our current budget based on the latest financial data.
2. A budget reduction task force will review feedback collected from site teams last school year and develop scenarios to meet the $360,000 shortfall.
3. The superintendent will meet with the school board’s Finance Committee to review the scenarios proposed by the task force, and the committee will provide feedback and guidance.
4. The task force will make final adjustments, and the school board will adopt next school year’s budget with proposed efficiencies in June.
In addition to the steps above, it is important to note that there are two additional variables in play that could affect our financial situation going forward: enrollment and state funding. Growth in enrollment has a positive impact on the district’s revenue, and we have seen some enrollment growth this year. Also, state funding makes up approximately 80% of our general fund budget. Minnesota school districts will find out after the next legislative session how much funding they will receive for the next biennium.
While some uncertainty remains in those areas, the parameters of what must be done to prepare our budget for next school year are now mostly clear. Again, thank you to our district community for the support shown by the passage of Question 1. As we consider our budgetary options in the months ahead, please know that we remain committed to upholding Delano’s tradition of educational excellence. Amid any challenge, this is always our foremost goal.