District 194 approves 2017-18 budget

Continues programs, eliminates busing fees

After months of discussion, the Lakeville Area School Board unanimously approved the 2017-18 $166.2 million balanced budget at its June 27 meeting.

Under the budget, general fund revenue will increase by $3.7 million with most of the increase coming from a 2 percent increase in the state’s general education formula.

Expenditures will exceed revenues by $3.9 million in the general fund, and spending in the fund is expected to increase from this fiscal year by $2.1 million in 2017-18 compared to 2016-17.

The district plans to use its assigned fund balance to mitigate the shortfall and projects the general fund balance to be reduced from $12.4 million this year to $8.5 million next year, or 6.51 percent of general fund expenditures and in line with district policy.

Most of the district’s spending increase is attributed to staff pay and benefit cost increases. District 194 is the biggest employer in Lakeville, with about 1,110 staff members, working full or part time at its 18 sites.

Student enrollment is projected to increase by 12 students next school year, from 10,993 to 11,005, but the district’s graduating class continues to outpace its incoming kindergarteners.

The district’s kindergarten class numbered 639 this year, while the graduating class was 932. In 2017-18, 629 incoming kindergarteners are expected to start school district-wide and 986 seniors are expected to graduate from Lakeville schools.

School Board Member Jim Skelly described the budget as disciplined and organized, noting it continues to restore programs and eliminates the vastly unpopular $150 per-student busing fees charged families of students bused who live within 2 miles from their school.

The fee was implemented amidst budget reductions in 2009 and led to huge traffic problems as many parents drove their children to and from school to avoid paying the fee.

District officials credited the voter-approved levy increases of 2013 and 2015 for providing funding that allows the district to avoid budget cuts and continuing to offer more opportunities for students, including restoring elementary art, fifth-grade band and expanding science, math, technology, engineering and math programming K-12.

The voter-approved capital levy also continues to fund safety and security systems across the district and technology products for students to use.

A detailed budget book is on the district’s website at isd194.org.