by Aaron Brom
SUN PRESS Newspapers
The Buffalo School Board approved a final budget for 2013-14 after hearing that the district finances are in good shape.
Director of finance and operations Gary Kawlewski said the school district’s budget represents the financial operating plan for the next school year.
The general fund budget shows revenues of $54,506,875 and total expenditures of $55,466,376. Kawlewski provided some highlights of the budget including the $78 per pupil increase in funding from the state and an increase in special education funding by 1.5%. It also includes updated contracts and allowances for unsettled contracts. It’s estimated that the district will have a 13% fund balance by the end of the 2013-14 school year.
Kawlewski also noted that the district is showing a deficit in the budget due to several factors. Because the district is financially stable, the school board is intentionally spending down a portion of the fund balance (about $959,000) to address a few needs around the district. The board is committed to reducing class sizes and setting aside funds for buildings and grounds projects, technology and curriculum. Also, integration funding for the 2013-14 school year will only be funded by the state at 86%. The district has decided not to make any cuts for next school year, but will have to look at changes for future school years. Integration funding covers programs such as the high school’s arts magnet program and the Tatanka Elementary STEM program.
Since the June 10 workshop presentation, Kawlewski noted there are a few changes to the budget. The Wright Choice Program will bring in $126,000 over two years ($76,000 this year), a teaching position was missed in the staffing projections (this is not a new position) and after further benefit cost review the total was adjusted down slightly (this number is constantly fluctuating).
There will also be a 10-cent increase to school meals. The district has to increase the amount in order to remain in the federal food program.
Kawlewski concluded that the district is in good financial position and that many districts would like to be where BHM Schools is at financially.
In other matters, the board heard that MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) tests in reading and math are administered each fall and spring to students in grades two through eight.
In addition, select students at Buffalo High School and Phoenix Learning Center were tested for remediation identification. Director of Teaching and Learning Pam Miller reported that MAP scores, overall, are very positive—nothing would indicate a negative trend in any grade level at any school in the district. She also noted that when you look at all grade levels, and all students (with the exception of the high school and Phoenix Learning Center), the majority of students were statistically significant above the national norm group.
In both reading and math, the percent of students meeting or exceeding their growth targets at all grade levels is at or above 55%, which NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) considers to be “high-performing.” The percentage of students meeting or exceeding their growth targets ranges from 55.3% to 66.4% in reading, and from 56.1% to 79.4% in math.
Since the board approved to use the Performance Series testing in the 2013-14 school year, this is the last year that the district will use the MAP tests. MAP test results are just one piece of standardized assessment data to determine the amount of student growth in reading and math on an annual basis, as well as over time.
MAP results provide schools with data to aide in making programmatic decisions in reading and math. District personnel and site principals will analyze all district and site MAP data, along with other assessment data, to determine appropriate improvement strategies for the 2013-14 school year.
In other action, the board:
HEARD a census report. The board approves an updated district census population annually. The census must be approved and updated with the Minnesota State Demographers office by July 1 each year. The new census population figure for 2013 is 32,105. This is an increase of 158 people from the 2012 report. This will increase revenue to Community Education by approximately $1,306.
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