Voters approved an operating levy last November for $525 per student. At that time, $525 per student is what we needed to maintain programming. The operating levy will balance two-thirds of our new deficit spending amount. The difference, 2.86% of our budget, needed to come in the form of reductions in the 2019-2020 budget.
In the statutory operating debt (SOD) plan that was submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education, Waconia Public Schools needed to reduce the general education budget by $1.26 million in the 2019 – 2020 budget.
With input from staff, the administrative team came up with a plan where 71.4% of the reductions will be made at the district level with the remaining 28.6% of cuts occurring at the building level. Budgets for various departments at the district level have been reduced in the following areas: superintendent; communications; administrative support; maintenance; technology; special education staffing; activities; professional development; special education supplies.
At the building level, the high school will create additional revenue by charging for parking passes. Staff at the high school will be reduced by 1.5 teachers. The middle school staff is being reduced by 1.87 teachers along with a half time educational services professional. Instructional and media center supply budgets along with professional development budgets at the elementary schools, middle school and high school will be reduced. The district will also use attrition savings to help balance the budget.
Even though the district was able to get through this with minimal impact at the classroom level, this problem is not going to go away unless our lawmakers correct the inequities in the special education cross-subsidy funding. Waconia Public Schools will be looking at making additional cuts next year unless the special education funding formula is changed. [contact legislators]