In highlighting the 2014-15 General Budget, Buffalo Dist. 877 staff said the district would spend down the fund balance to restore programming and help reduce class sizes.
The board also reviewed the superintendent’s evaluation and took action on other issues.
2014-15 General Budget
The 2014-15 budget represents a financial operating plan for the school year. While there is always a list of items that affect the budget, Finance and Operations Director Gary Kawlewski highlighted what will be a part of the 2014-15 budget:
• $189.55 board approved referendum approved in 2013
• General Ed revenue formula allowance moves to estimated $5,831 for 2014-15
• Special Education aid increases one percent
• 2.5 FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) special education staffing contingency
• Continuation of 6.0 FTE for Class Size Reduction-includes Marketing budget
• All-Day, Every Day Kindergarten rolls from the Community Education fund to the General Fund
• 3.3 FTE addition to move to full implementation of free All-Day, Every Day Kindergarten
• 6.0 FTE addition for Location Equity Revenue funding
Kawlewski said that planning for the district’s budget is a lengthy process spanning multiple years. He said One of the most important pieces is enrollment projections, since funding is based on the number of students in schools, and noted that the district relies heavily on state funding, which makes up 84 percent of the budget.
Kawlewski also shared that the district’s budget is people and programs. About 77 percent of the General Fund budget pays salaries and benefits. The General Fund is used to account for all revenues and expenses for the school district (not accounted for elsewhere). The General Fund total revenues for the 2014-15 school year show just over $57.7 million and total expenses of just over $59.3 million.
Kawlewski said that the district is intentionally spending down some of the fund balance for next school year in an attempt to restore some of the programming lost over the last few years and help reduce class sizes, and that additional funds from the state and the board approved referendum for next year will help offset some of those expenses.
Lastly, he said it’s clear that additional action will be necessary in the next several years to allow the district to remain fiscally healthy and keep the fund balance where it needs to be. District revenue relies on funding from the state, student enrollment, and board/voter approved levy referendums. These three need to remain stable and consistent for the financial health of the district to remain steady.
In further matters, school board chairperson Sue Lee reported on the performance of Supt. Scott Thielman over the past year.
She talked about his passion for Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools; the trust the staff and community have in him; his financial knowledge and his ability to work well with the Director of Finance and Operations Kawlewski; the great guidance he provides to board members and others on district issues; and his good communications skills.
She also noted his ability to grow a strong team within the district and that he’s seen as approachable. Lee stressed to Thielman the value to continue the board retreats he leads each year, making sure he continues to spend time in the classrooms and to continue to work on various projects such as Q-Comp and the district’s strategic plan. Lee concluded by thanking Thielman for a good year.
In other action, the board:
APPROVED an updated district census population. The new census population for 2014 is estimated at 32,261. This is an increase of 156 people from the 2013 report. This will be submitted to Susan Bower, Minnesota State Demographer by July 1 to be approved.