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Declining enrollments impact budget

By Valerie Scherbart Quist

 

The District 2904 2015-2016 preliminary budget presents a scenario not unusual to the district.

Declining enrollment has Tracy Area Public Schools projecting a $242,844 decline in its general fund balance by the end of the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

“We always try to look at the worst-case scenario,” said Supt. Chad Anderson, who presented the preliminary budget to the board of education Monday.

That worst-case scenario is that student enrollment will dip to 723 at the start of the 2015-2016 school year, which amounts to 32 fewer students than the end of the 2014-2015 school year. This means a loss of $94,671 in funding.

While decreased student numbers are a big part of the anticipated budget deficit for next year, there are other contributing factors as well. Anderson cited transportation costs, and salaries and benefits as other anticipated increases.

Next year, the contract for transportation with 4.0 Bus Services will increase by two percent. The amount spent on transportation to Belview Learning Center will also increase by two percent.

In 2014-2015, salaries and benefits totaled $6,230,000. In 2015-2016, district salaries and benefits are expected to be $6,360,000, for an increase of $130,000.

Another factor in the budget are roof repairs, which are expected to cost $170,000. Currently, there is $100,000 in the fund balance for this project, but another $100,000 will be received in October 2015 to fund the remainder of the project.

An increase in funding approved by the Minnesota Legislature will help, but not enough to completely offset the projected loss of students. In FY 2016, funding will increase from $5,831 to $5,948 per pupil, and in FY 2017, it will increase to $6,067. This amounts to two percent each year. The district will also receive a small increase in ESL funding.

At the end of the 2014-2015 school year (ending June 30), Anderson said, an unrestricted fund balance of $2,244,874 is anticipated, for a loss of $31,446 for the year. At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, the fund balance is expected to drop to $2,025,162, for a loss of $219,712.