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Board, administration begin budget alignment process for 2019-20

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.
Board, administration begin budget alignment process for 2019-20

The first phase of the district’s budget planning process for the 2019-20 school year is in progress as fiscal parameters are established and administrators prepare recommendations for budget adjustments. While the budget is still in development, initial estimates are that more than $2 million in budget adjustments will be needed for the coming academic year.

Annually, the district has to adjust its budget as a result of a state funding gap for education. The anticipated funding gap for 2019-20 is about $2.5 million. In addition, the district’s 2018 class of kindergarteners was 100 students fewer than the graduating class of 2018, creating a decline in the district’s total enrollment. The district will monitor legislative decisions around state funding, which is based on student enrollment.

Fiscal parameters
At its Dec. 17 work session, the School Board will discuss fiscal parameters to be used as a framework for budget development. The parameters were discussed by the Board Finance and Facilities Committee at its Dec. 10 meeting, and include: no addition of staff or programs unless they are cost neutral, and to maintain a 6% fund balance per current Board policy guidelines. At the end of the current fiscal year, the fund balance will be slightly below 6% at the end of the current fiscal year and the budget plan will include steps to restore the level of fund balance.

Other fiscal parameters include projected enrollment. Margo Bauck, director of business services, said the district will apply the enrollment number from the first day of school in January 2019 to state and federal formulas to try to reach as accurate an estimate as possible. A demographic study of the community, a joint effort by the district and the City of Edina, is expected to be completed by February. It will also provide data that will inform enrollment projections.

Revenue from state and federal funds (special education, safe schools, limited English proficiency, literacy incentive aid, and others), and expenditure parameters (staffing and associated salary and benefits contracts, utilities, supplies, professional development, and others) have been estimated and will be updated as enrollment numbers are adjusted. Results from the 2019 legislative session will be incorporated into the budget in June.

Budget alignment recommendations
Last March, the School Board proposed studies of elementary and secondary programming, focused on program efficiency. Middle and high school schedules were also analyzed and are proposed to remain the same.

To accommodate the secondary course registration process, budget recommendations for secondary programming will be an action item on the Board’s Dec. 17 meeting agenda. Based on their program study, secondary principals focused their recommendations on areas of course enrollment, teachers on special assignment, and class sizes.

Recommendations for remaining budget areas will be guided by the approved fiscal parameters and are slated to be discussed at the Board’s Feb. 11 work session. These will include budget alignment proposals in areas of special education programming, teaching and learning, district office, and elementary level programming. It should be noted that while some community members are under the impression that a decision has been made to reduce band and orchestra programming, in fact band and orchestra are not on the budget alignment recommendation list.

A listening session focused on proposed budget alignment recommendations is tentatively being scheduled for March 4. The Board is scheduled to approve the preliminary 2019-20 district budget at is March 11 regular meeting. Final budget approval is slated for June.