No cuts seen next year in District 191

Proposed budget taps reserves

No cuts are proposed in the 2013-14 budget for Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191.

Administrators presented to the School Board Feb. 7 a budget that raises general-fund spending from $111.76 million this school year to $114.97 million next year.

Board Member Ron Hill, bracing for recommended cuts in programs or staff, was told there aren’t any.

“There’s no reductions,” Lisa Rider, executive director of business services, told Hill. “We have only added. But you are using fund balance to pay for that – unassigned and restricted.”

The 2013-14 proposal relies on reserves to bridge an estimated $4.82 million gap between revenue and spending. Costs are expected to rise by a little more than 4 percent.

“We’re all heaving a huge sigh of relief,” Board Chair Sandra Sweep said. “This is the best budget we’ve seen since I’ve been on the board.”

Anticipated spending would pressure fund reserves. The unassigned balance would drop from 13.9 percent of the general fund this year to 10.6 percent next year. The balance would fall to 2.9 percent in 2014-15, under spending and revenue estimates for that year.

Superintendent Randy Clegg recommended spending about $4 million in unassigned fund balance next year for instructional technology upgrades.

As the state moves toward requiring more online testing, Clegg said the current elementary school computer labs are consumed by testing all but six weeks a year.

The district needs to shorten its technology replacement cycles and begin planning to replace the nearly 1,000 iPads it has bought so far, Clegg said.

He proposes adding two more mental-health workers under the district’s contract with Headway Emotional Health Services. Every school has waiting lists for the services, Clegg said, adding that no district in Minnesota offers more access to mental health services.

The cost would rise from $140,570 this year to $186,720 next year.

The board will hold a budget workshop Feb. 19 and is scheduled to approve the 2013-14 budget Feb. 21.