BY JONATHAN YOUNG
The Osseo School Board has approved a budget with $207.5 million in general fund expenses for fiscal year 2013, which runs July 2012 through June 2013.
The budget represents an increase of about $5 million over the $202.5 million revised budget for fiscal year 2012.
Revenues are expected to increase slightly from $192.2 million to $193.8 million. That means the district expects to operate at a deficit of about $8.8 million and end fiscal year 2013 with an unreserved fund balance of about $29.6 million.
In February, budget projections showed $210.4 million in expenses for fiscal year 2013, but the board instructed staff to make $3 million in cuts.
Of that, $2 million in cuts were to adjust staffing levels to align with projected declines in enrollment.
The other $1 million in cuts eliminated the equivalent of 6.3 full-time positions and included cuts to all four areas of the general fund: Human and Administrative Resources, Community Engagement, I2T2 (information technology) and the Division of Leadership, Teaching and Learning.
Overall the cuts eliminated the equivalent of 35.7 full-time positions.
The budget passed June 19 on a 3-1 vote. Chair Dean Henke dissented. Directors Laura Cottington and Kim Green were absent.
Henke said he could not support the budget because of the unsustainable $8.8 million operating deficit, even though it was an improvement from earlier projections.
"We still have a fairly decent fund balance," he said. "But … we’re kind of into that point in time in the budget where it’s not sustainable …"
Director Tammie Epley took a different view.
"I’m glad to see the direction that we’re going," she said. "I’m really glad to see that revenue is up and expenditures are down – that all of the people involved are willing to make sacrifices to help us make those years coming up look a little less grim. Hopefully we can continue to move in this direction. But I guess I’m always optimistic when I can see that we’re moving in that right direction."
Director Teresa Lunt stressed that the board is trying to control costs.
"I realize that we are in deficit spending now," she said. "(My approval of this budget) in no way means that I’m not concerned about what lies ahead."
Director Jim Burgett noted that the district has plans to implement a new long-term financial planning strategy that should help with planning in the future.