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District 833 Preps For Next School Year’s Budget

The South Washington County School Board at its meeting last Thursday set the time line for the budget process.

Anybody who has bills knows budgeting is a never-ending process.

In South Washington County, District 833 recently started another budgeting process, shortly after wrapping up this school year’s budget. The district approved its 2011-12 budget less than two months ago, but it's already looking toward next year’s finances.

Aaron Bushberger, District 833 director of finance, gave the school board a preliminary presentation about the 2012-13 budget at its Jan. 12 workshop meeting. (At the meeting, some residents renew .)

Much like this year’s operating account, Bushberger said the majority of funding for next school year would come from the state—in the 2011-12 budget, 79 percent was comprised of state dollars. The rest was made up of property-tax levy funds, federal aid and other local sources.

District 833 was able to avoid asking its residents for more money this school year via levy referendum, and the same could be true for the next budget cycle, especially with more money coming in due to higher-than-expected student enrollment. Bushberger said the district could conservatively expect a 1 percent increase in enrollment over last year, which equates to more state dollars under the per-pupil funding formula.

However, he said the inflation could be an issue in upcoming years.

“Over the past decade, funding has not kept up with the pace of inflation,” Bushberger said.

To address this issue, the state has utilized “shifts” of its budget, which allows it to withhold some of the money it owes to schools.

That action does not change the revenue total, but it does change when districts receive their cash, which is causing many districts to have a cash-flow problem.  The state had previously been on a 90/10-percent payment schedule, but for the 2011-2012 year, it changed that amount to a 60/40 percent-payment schedule.

Looking Ahead

The time line for hashing out next school year’s finances was laid out by Bushberger during the meeting.

At it’s Jan. 26 meeting, the board will need to approve its 2012-13 preliminary staffing ratio.

In January and February, district administration will be working on its “Budgeting for Excellence” process, which will include . In March, the board will review and approve the staffing ratios and budget adjustments. 

The board is scheduled to approve the general fund budget at its June 18 meeting.

Toward the end of the discussion, board chair Leslee Boyd stressed district financial staff and the school board would likely be tweaking the budget on a continual basis until a final budget and property-tax levy are approved.

“We’re never going to stop making adjustments if we see opportunities to do so,” she said. 

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