Moorhead School Board approves budget for 2019-20
July 8, 2019
During the June 10 meeting, the Moorhead School Board approved the district’s annual operating plan, which includes the preliminary budget for the 2019-20 school year.
General fund revenues are projected at $87 million. The district’s revenues for 2019-20 will increase primarily because of a 2 percent increase to the general education aid formula and an estimated increase in student enrollment of approximately 180 students, said Kristin Dehmer, executive director of human resources and operations.
Expenses are projected to be $103 million as the district continues to address the operating levy priorities and enrollment growth. The primary reasons for the increase are the addition of $11.8 million in construction costs for the operations center and the addition of approximately six support staff positions and 18 full-time equivalent teaching positions, which includes 7.5 positions to support the Achievement and Integration plan. Additionally, two school buses and a van will be purchased in 2019-20 to continue upgrading the district’s bus fleet.
Construction of the operations center, which came in more than $2 million under estimates, will create additional capacity for elementary students within existing buildings and save the district approximately $21 million because the fifth elementary school identified in the Facilities Master Plan will not be needed at this time based on current enrollment projections.
In November 2016, district residents approved an operating levy renewal that will provide $223.66 per pupil in voter-approved funding for the next nine years. Revenue from renewal of the operating levy will address these five priority areas identified by the School Board: support learning and operate our new and existing schools for our growing student enrollment; maintain average class sizes; provide a source of stable and predictable revenue to avoid reductions; maintain and replace technology equipment; and maintain access to education programs including world languages and early childhood.
Ninety-nine percent of Minnesota school districts use operating levy funding. Statewide the average operating levy authority is $1,187 per pupil. Moorhead Area Public Schools is below the state average at $947.66 per pupil — of which $223.66 is voter-approved and $724 is board approved. The operating levy generates approximately $1.5 million for the school district.
The result of the recommended budget is a fund balance decrease of $11.7 million for 2019-20. The fund balance is projected to be 17.1 percent of total expenditures. This is the target fund balance required in School Board policy.
The board was provided with projections for the next three years. Assuming an increase to the per pupil allowance for 2020-21 and no increases in revenue from the state for 2021-22 and 2022-23, the district’s expenditures are projected to exceed revenue by approximately $770,000 for fiscal year 2022, and by $2.6 million for fiscal year 2023.
Dehmer also reviewed the preliminary staffing plan, enrollment projections, and food service, community service, debt service, and building construction funds. A revised budget will be presented to the board in January 2020.
The food service revenue and expenditures will increase 2 percent this year. Student and adult meal prices will remain the same this year, which is compliant with federal requirements.
A separate fund was established to track revenues and expenditures for the construction work that received voter approval in November 2015. Expenditures on the projects are at $74.6 million. Renovations were completed last summer at Moorhead High School to increase safety and security for students. Remaining funds are being used toward other district construction projects.