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Board approves $1.7 million in budget adjustments for 2018-19 school year

At its work session April 16, the Edina School Board gave preliminary approval to budget adjustments totaling $1.7 million for the 2018-19 school year. The budget alignment plan was proposed by district administration and staff following multiple discussions with the School Board and its Finance Committee, input from the community, and review of recommendations from previous Budget Advisory Task Forces.

“This was not an easy cut process, and I am pleased that we were able to work with the principals and staff at sites to create this plan,” said School Board Treasurer Matthew Fox. “Cuts are not easy, but this plan identifies things we can do with minimal impact to students. I am relieved that we are giving kids the best options for learning while remaining fiscally prudent.”

In November, Edina voters approved the renewal of an expiring operating levy, which includes an increase in per pupil revenue for taxes payable in 2018, with an additional inflationary increase beginning in 2020. As was shared prior to the November referendum, the approved levies allow the district to sustain programs and services and for continuous improvement of curriculum and instructional practices, but they are not able to fund any major changes or additions to programs, staff or services.

As in past years, increases in general education revenue provided by state aid will not keep pace with rising costs due to increases in compensation and general inflation. Over the past 10 years the district has reduced its budget by a total of $8.5 million in order to balance the budget.

“We are grateful for the ongoing financial support of the Edina community,” said Margo Bauck, director of business services. “The renewed levy with increases will certainly help bridge the gap between revenue and expenditures going forward, but we just don’t know what future state funding will look like. It is impossible to say what kind of budget gaps may present themselves over the next few years.” Bauck added that the budget adjustment plan, which includes reductions for next year but looks holistically at the next two years, allows the District to restore its fund balance to levels approved by the Board and maintains the district’s credit rating.

The budget development process began, as it does every year, with leaders examining budgets to identify efficiencies, budget transfers, and potential cuts. A significant amount of time was spent analyzing staffing across the district, which accounts for 84 percent of the district’s expenditures. An examination of programming followed.

The result was a list of adjustments in varying amounts from every operational department and many program areas in the district. Staffing efficiencies for 2018-19 and improved processes for managing staff at all sites were identified. In addition, there will be some staffing reductions of the following positions: clerical, teachers on special assignment (TOSA), paraprofessionals, communications, and summer interns. Reductions were also made in areas of contracted services and professional development, and curriculum development will be limited to areas scheduled for review. In addition, all district and school supply budgets will be frozen.

Although this budget attempts to maintain class sizes at 2017-18 levels, some students could be impacted by staff reductions and possible increases in fees for athletics and activities. Department managers and teachers will monitor adjustments throughout the year to ensure the needs of all students continue to be met and that students who wish to participate in sports and activities are able.

The plan also calls for continued study of certain program areas to assess opportunities for additional savings and efficiencies in future years.

This story was originally published in the spring issue of Experience EPS during the 2017-18 school year, which was mailed to the community in May 2018.