A school year’s budget is a 28-month process

I thought by law our school district’s budget has to be approved by June 30 every year? Why is it being revised now?

The budget year for Minnesota school districts runs from July 1 to June 30. The Board of Education unanimously approved the 2005-2006 Preliminary Budget at its June 23, 2005 meeting. While state law requires the approval of the budget by June 30, the actual work on a school year budget spans 28 months and involves an in-depth sequential process that takes place both before and after this date.
In July of 2004, members of the finance department, under the direction of Ray Queener, began to gather and refine the information necessary for the Board of Education to establish a preliminary levy. At its Sept. 23, 2004 meeting, the Board of Education unanimously adopted a preliminary levy for the 2005 payable property taxes.
The finance department also updated enrollment numbers and housing information gathered from area developers. After extensive, conservative refinement of this information, the enrollment model and projections were shared with the Board of Education at its Nov. 4, 2004 meeting. This information was used for budget planning.
The budget related information was shared at the Truth in Taxation public hearing on Dec. 9, 2004. On Dec. 16, 2004, the Board of Education unanimously certified the 2005 tax levy, which was reflected in the 2005 property taxes.
Assumptions must be made during the budgeting process in order for planning to move ahead. Stillwater Area Public Schools have consistently utilized a set of conservative assumptions. Budget reduction conversations took place in February and March of 2005. At the March 10, 2005 meeting, the Board of Education unanimously approved just over $4 million dollars in budget reductions to the 2005-2006 budget arriving at a balanced budget.
The preliminary budget targets the use of revenues toward the approved Board of Education goals. The information included within this budget is used to support programs, services and staff members that assist the district in addressing its goals.
On June 23 of last year when the 2005-2006 preliminary budget was approved, there were many unknowns. For example, school districts did not know the amount of funding it would receive from the state because the Legislature was still in session. Additionally, the amount of money that would be necessary to satisfy employee and insurance contract obligations was unknown, as was the number of students who would actually enroll during the 2005-06 school year.
The Board of Education passed the 2005-2006 revised budget at its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 26 of this year. The revised budget utilizes updated financial and enrollment information to provide a more accurate picture of the district’s 2005-2006 budget status. The Board of Education may approve another revision of the 2005-2006 budget if additional information emerges in the spring.
With the closing of the fiscal year on June 30, 2006, the district’s finance staff will diligently work to close the books in preparation for the annual audit. During July, August and September 2006, they will assist auditors from an independent audit firm who are hired to complete the district’s state required financial statements. The Board of Education will then receive a full report on the annual financial report and the audit of the report at a board its meetings in late fall. This action will bring to close the 2005-2006 budget, which had its origin in July of 2004.
After the Board of Education approves any budget document, the public can view them at the district’s Web site at www.stillwater.k12.mn.us. Click on the “Finance and Operations” tab in the left column and then select the finance tab. You will then be able to view a large number of documents related to budget information since the 2001-2002 school year. Included in this information is the recently presented 2006-2007 preliminary budget, along with the general fund five-year forecast that was presented to the Board of Education on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006.

Questions can be e-mailed to ryskoskik@stillwater.k12.mn.us or sent on a postcard to Keith Ryskoski, Stillwater Area Public Schools, 1875 South Greeley Street, Stillwater, MN 55082. “Talk of the District” is also a cable television program that is filmed twice a month and shown several times a week. Contact your local cable access center to find out the days/times it airs in your area. Register for Stillwater Area Public Schools E-News at www.stillwater.k12.mn.us and click on E-News Bureau.

Comment Here