Error leads to increased estimate for District 194

School Board to discuss levy election Aug. 1

Updated estimates show if voters approve a levy increase this November, District 194 would receive about double original estimates recently discussed by School Board members.

Photo submitted
District 194 Superintendent Michael Baumann’s updated chart shows the estimated amount the district could receive annually from a levy increase that would raise property between $75-$100 yearly on the average valued $275,000 home. The increase would bring between $21.3 million and $30.9 million additional funding into the district total over the 10 years. The chart is based on an estimated adjusted pupil unit (measure of determining student population in state funding) of approximately 11,952 and includes automatic inflation increases.

Superintendent Michael Baumann said the district inadvertently presented the School Board with incorrect information at its July 18 meeting after a formulaic error was discovered after this edition went to press last week.

(Due to the discrepancy, Sun Thisweek did not post the original story online, although it accurately reflected the information presented and board discussion, because the information presented turned out to be inaccurate and if corrected, the discrepancy would change the context of the story.)

Results of a survey conducted by Springsted Inc. found voter support for a maximum tax increase of $85 per year for the average-value home of $275,000 in the district in addition to renewing an existing $8.2 million annual levy this November, which would maintain tax levels.

But the amount the district would reap from the increase starts at $1.8 million annually, not $1.02 million as originally estimated and discussed by School Board members last week.

Baumann said he had calculated and provided board members the original information in the middle of the meeting in an attempt to address their questions about the data, which Springsted had provided just hours prior to the meeting.

The calculation error was discovered two days after the meeting, and Baumann emailed the newspaper and School Board members an updated chart showing potential income to the district using the correct formula, which will be discussed and reviewed at the board’s Aug. 1 meeting.

Despite the additional estimated income a levy increase could yield for the next decade, the funding does not make up for projections showing a dire financial outlook for the district.

The district’s five-year finance plan shows current deficit spending continuing to grow so that by next summer (fiscal year 2019), district expenditures will exceed revenues by $4.8 million and its unassigned fund balance will be $3.1 million in deficit.

Assuming factors that include enrollment, salary and benefit increases and state funding, by fiscal year 2021 (summer 2020),the district’s beginning fund balance is anticipated to be negative $183,112 and its unassigned fund balance negative $11 million.

By fiscal year 2022, Baumann projected the district’s beginning fund balance would be in a $9.3 million deficit and its unassigned fund balance in deficit more than $22.3 million.

As School Board members discuss the situation next Tuesday, Baumann said he will have a live active spreadsheet that will update all estimates to reflect different variables.

“That’s the better way to do it, obviously, because all the parameters are built into the logarithm that you set up in the spreadsheet, which is something that I think boards appreciate, the what-if opportunity that shows immediate results,” Baumann said. “It gives you the opportunity to say, if this, then that, and what if we modify our decision or if we want to make a change to solve that problem. It gives them a lot more flexibility and it’s real-time.”

Despite the district’s current situation, Baumann said he sees a way out.

He said the answer lies in passing a levy increase, reducing spending and working with the Legislature on school funding.

“If they don’t get closer to inflation in their support to school districts, we’ll always be in this problem,” Baumann said.

Contact Laura Adelmann at