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Budget Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the district revenue come from?

Most of the district’s funding comes from the state, about 71 percent. So decisions by the state Legislature affect the district more than anything else.

In addition, some of the money the district receives is restricted in terms of how it can be spent. Money that is designated for meeting the needs of homeless students or for capital improvements and long-term maintenance, for instance, can’t be moved away from those purposes.

Are there restrictions on some of the money the district receives?

Yes. Some of the funding we receive can only be used for specific purposes. For instance:

  • Capital—For example, repairing a parking lot. The district can’t take the money that’s used for repairing a parking lot & choose instead to spend it on teachers.
  • Title Funding (Federal)—Money that’s going to a school because the school has a high poverty rate has to be used for needs associated with having a high poverty rate.
  • Community Education & Food & Nutrition Service budgets are outside of the general fund, so adjustments to those budgets are unlikely to help balance the district’s budget.
  • Achievement & Integration—These funds have to be used for services that target achievement for underrepresented student groups & integration. We set those goals with a 3-year plan & align the budget to that plan each year.

How does the district currently spend money?

About 80 percent of district spending is on instruction and instructional support. This includes classroom teachers, educational assistants and other supports that are directly tied to instruction.

The district spends about 4% of its annual budget on district-level administration, compared to the state average in 2017 of 4.67%. Surrounding districts are about the same, with Lakeville at 4.1% and Prior Lake-Savage at 4.4%.

In addition, about 80 percent of district spending is on salaries and benefits for the people who provide services, such as teachers, educational assistants, principals, custodians, administrators, secretaries and others.

Can the district close a school for next year (2019-20)?

Not at this time, but given our enrollment, it’s a possibility for the future.

We didn’t undertake a study regarding facilities at this time in part because of the change in School Board members and the upcoming change in superintendent. The potential for closing or rearranging schools is a decision that deserves a thorough process. We are in the beginning steps of planning a facilities study that would help us determine what’s possible going forward so that a decision can be made for the 2020-2021 school year.

Can the district combine programs into one building (e.g. Move BEST to Diamondhead) & then lease out the other building? Are there many vacant rooms at Diamondhead?

The possibility of combining programs into fewer buildings would be part of a comprehensive facilities study that is being planned to start this spring.

Does the district have more administrators now than in 2011?

No. An organizational chart from 2011 has been widely circulated showing 26 “administrator” position in the district, and comparing that to a 2017 chart that showed 38.5 positions. However, the 2011 organization chart did not include many positions that existed then, positions that are shown on the 2017 version. These include:

  • Community Education Coordinators (5)
  • Payroll Supervisor
  • Operations Supervisors (5)
  • Assistant Director of Food Service
  • Coordinator of Instructional Technology

In addition, the 2017 organizational chart still showed some positions that have not been filled or have been reduced already, including 1 SISA coordinator and the Director of Health Services.

Because the district has been restructured so significantly over the past decade, it can be difficult to compare one position to another from two different periods. For instance, some responsibilities related to curriculum and instruction may have been performed by a “teacher on special assignment.” Now, those responsibilities may be covered by a coordinator. By moving the position to a coordinator who is not on the teacher contract, the district can require a longer work year for a slightly increased salary, depending on where the teacher fell on the payscale.

Does the district spend more on district administrators than neighbors?

The district spends about 4% of its annual budget on district-level administration, compared to the state average in 2017 of 4.67%. Surrounding districts are about the same, with Lakeville at 4.1% and Prior Lake-Savage at 4.4%.

Voters approved a levy referendum in 2017. Why are still making cuts & why didn’t the district ask for more?

Whether or not the levy was approved, we’d be making adjustments. That’s because the cost of doing business increases by 3.5 percent each year while major source of funding (from the state) increases by only 2 percent, and historically has not kept up with inflation. If the levy had not been approved, cuts would have been far deeper.

The Board of Education asked for an amount that it felt confident the community would approve, based on a community survey. Asking for more could have resulted in a failed referendum, which would have led to far bigger budget reductions.

Were police officers cheaper than deans? Which is more effective?

Police officers and Level 3 EA's (Campus Supervisors) were both removed as we transitioned to Dean positions at our middle schools. (There are still police liaison officers at BHS.) Not only is the Dean position less expensive than the other positions combined, it is the appropriate school-based level position to address student needs with the authority to act upon them.

The purpose of adding a dean position at all three middle schools  was to provide licensed educators who have the authority to make decisions and can immediately address the needs of students that are affecting behaviors. The response has been very positive at each school, with some decreases in referrals and student behavior incidents already being measured.

Has the district considered offering early retirement incentives to higher-salaried employees?

Yes, but this approach only results in a savings if a certain threshold is met, in terms of number of employees who take the early retirement option. Historically, the district has not had enough employees opt-in for it to be worthwhile.

Would we save money by having grounds crew clear parking lots?

To move snow clearing internally, the district would need to purchase a large amount of equipment and likely hire additional staff with appropriate certifications in order to ensure parking lots were clear in time for school after a snowfall. It would not be more efficient than hiring a company that specializes in snow removal.

Does the district pay to have people visit our schools & review our programs, such as Read/Math 180?

When experts on a particular curriculum are brought into the district, it’s usually to provide training to our staff. The cost of training staff to use new curriculum materials (new to them or new to the district) is often included with the cost of the material itself. In the case of Read/Math 180, the district pays trainers to work with staff in our district as a part of what we pay for access to the material. We're currently exploring the option of building internal capacity to do trainings in future. Like any professional development activity, the goal is to ensure the curriculum or instructional model are delivered with fidelity.

Could we save money by doing our own subbing?

Substitute costs have two components: the daily rate that is paid to the substitute and the overhead cost to make the substitution possible. Overhead costs such as absence reporting software, labor hours for recruiting, on-boarding and training, staff to coordinate the subs and openings, additional benefits costs above the daily rate of pay for FICA, TRA, and medical insurance required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are all included in our contract with our substitute service provider, Teachers on Call. The district saves money by contracting out this service.

Can the district opt-out of some testing ... MCA, ACT, NWEA/MAP, etc.?

State standardized tests (MCAs) are required. Other tests are optional and may be included in proposed adjustments.