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District 833 Seeks Feedback on Budget Process

School officials to partner with community members to address finances.

Residents who think they have some good ideas about how District 833 should manage its budget could soon have an opportunity to communicate those ideas to district officials.

At the Oct. 6 school board meeting, Aaron Bushberger, director of finance for the district, presented a “Budgeting for Excellence” plan, which is being developed to “ensure effective and sustainable use of district funds with limited resources.”

“We’ve been fortunate to receive funding increases from the state of Minnesota, but history has shown those increases have not kept up with inflation,” he said.

To address the limited amount of money the district has to work with, Bushberger proposed the formation of a “budget-review team” to the school board.

The group would be comprised of 18 members: three district administrators, three principals, two school board members, five district staff members and five community members.

“(The team) will review budget-adjustment ideas and our budget,” Bushberger said. “They will go through it thoroughly and determine if any changes need to be made.”

Board member Ron Kath said he didn’t understand the need for the formation of the budget-review team.

“I would recommend that we use the district finance committee and bring a few of these other people into that instead of having a separate committee out doing this,” he said.

Bushberger said ideas from the district finance committee could be implemented during the process, but that group looks more at “big picture” financial items, while the budget-review team will have more knowledge about specifics.

“We didn’t intend to slight (the district finance committee),” Superintendent Mark Porter said. “We appreciate the work they’ve done in the past.”

The budget-review team will take suggestions from community members Oct. 18 and 25 at all three District 833 high schools. Check the district’s website for start times.

Residents can also submit their ideas online at the district’s website or on paper Nov. 1 through Jan. 31.

Bushberger said the budget-review team will break down suggestions into a “stoplight” formula, under which the best ideas that have the least negative impact on students will be given the “green” rating, ideas that have some negative impact on students will be given the “yellow” rating and ideas that save money but have the most negative impact on students will labeled “red.”

“The last thing we want to do are things that have major impact on students,” Porter said.

The school board will host upcoming meetings with the district finance committee at which “budgeting for excellence” ideas will likely be discussed, Porter said.

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