District shares recommendations for $7 million in budget adjustments for 2019-20

A District 196 Budget Steering Committee released its preliminary recommendations for making $7 million in budget adjustments for the 2019-20 school year. The adjustments, which include a combination of budget cuts and revenue enhancements, are needed to help the district overcome a projected $25 million budget shortfall over the next three years due to inadequate state funding for basic and special education.

The preliminary recommendations were presented at focus group meetings the first week of December to get feedback from staff, parents, students and other district stakeholders.

After reviewing public input and considering possible revisions, the committee presented its final recommendations as new business at the Jan. 7 School Board meeting. The board unanimously approved the budget adjustments for the 2019-20 school year at its Feb. 11 meeting.

Budget Adjustment Presentation

A young student working on homework.

Budget Adjustment Recommendations

Two elementary students are working on an art project together.

A decade of doing more with less

Lack of funding was identified as the most serious issue facing the district in a survey of 400 randomly selected District 196 residents conducted last spring. In that same survey, 91 percent of respondents rated the quality of education provided by the district as excellent or good and 96 percent believe the community receives a good value from its investment in the schools

The general education formula allowance is the single biggest source of revenues that Minnesota school districts receive. Since 2003, the gap between the actual and inflation-adjusted formula allowance has grown to $596 per pupil (see graph below). If the general education formula had kept pace with inflation since 2003, Solomon said District 196 would be receiving an additional $18 million in state funding this school year.

State general education funding gap chart.


The lack of adequate funding for special education is an even costlier issue for Minnesota school districts. This school year, the estimated gap between state and federal funding for special education and the actual cost of providing the service, known as the special education “cross-subsidy,” will top $700 million statewide (see graph below). In District 196 alone, the funding shortfall for special education is estimated to be $28 million this year. As a result, the district will need to use general fund dollars to make up the difference.

State special education funding gap chart.