District 191 Superintendent Theresa Battle shared a first-look at the 2020-21 budget situation with School Board members at their meeting March 12, emphasizing that the district is taking a values- and priorities-based approach to this year’s process, and that transformational work already completed this year has put the district in a better - but still tenuous - financial situation.
Among the priorities included in the initial budget presentation are:
Pathways: Implementing the Pathways model schools at elementary and middle levels, and protecting Pathways programs at Burnsville High School;
Early Learning: Ensuring pre-kindergarten classes at every elementary school;
Student Supports: Continue providing social workers, cultural liaisons and mental health supports;
Equity: Invest in building-level equity teams, training for leadership and targeted professional development;
Maximizing resources: Facility realignment, using restricted funds as much as possible.
Maintain class sizes
“We’ve done a lot of the work of identifying our priorities already,” Battle said. “For instance, this Board has been clear that strong Pathways programming at the high school and establishing all of our schools as Pathways schools is a priority, and both parents and staff members have been supportive of that as a priority, too.”
In presenting the numbers, Director of Business Services Lisa Rider said the district is using a very conservative enrollment projection of 7,506 students in kindergarten through grade 12. With that enrollment, the district could have been facing an $8.8 million deficit for next year if it hadn’t made any changes through its Integrated Action Plan.
Instead, Rider presented the following adjustments:
Voter-approved levy - $1.6 million in new revenue
Closing facilities - $2.6 million in decreased expense
Right-sizing staffing based on enrollment - $1.3 million in decreased expense
Additional adjustments & efficiencies - $1.1 million in decreases expense
Combined, they leave the district with an initial $2.2 million budget deficit for next year.
Rider noted that the district continues to face the same budget pressures as in the past, including funding for special education and English learner services falling a combined $12.5 million short of costs each year.
“We’re not alone in this,” Rider said. “Every school district is facing significant shortfalls because the aid is just not there.”
Board members will hold a work session on March 13 to receive and discuss more details on the initial budget presentation.
Information about the budget will be available online at www.isd191.org/budget and the public will have an opportunity to share their priorities and ideas for efficiencies through an online form.
An adjusted budget recommendation, based on Board and public input, will be presented in April, and the final budget will be adopted in June.