Willmar School Board may cut budget by $2 million for the 2023-24 school year

Falling enrollment and inflation are leading to budget cuts in Willmar Public Schools and other school districts around the state.

A file photo of the Willmar Public Schools sign at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, where the administration offices are located.
Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board may have to cut nearly $2 million from the budget for the 2023-24 school year.

That would be about 3% to 4% of the budget. Final decisions about the cuts are expected to be made in April.

Superintendent Jeff Holm spoke with the board at its meeting Monday about the reason for the cuts and the process that will be used to make the choices.

During the pandemic, enrollment fell, rebounded slightly last year and has fallen again this year. State aid is tied to student numbers.

In addition, inflation has outpaced the state aid for years.


Government support has been promised but only partially delivered to help pay for special education and English Learner programs. Regardless, schools have a legal and moral responsibility to provide the programs, even when they stretch the budget, Holm said.

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Holm also laid out a timeline for the budget planning.

A task force of a cross-section of the community has started meeting to provide input to the district’s administrators and the school board, he said. Those meetings should wrap up in March.

The board’s Finance Committee will meet in February and March, while school administrators work to keep staff members informed.

Board action would be expected in April ahead of setting the budget in June for 2023-24.

The district’s budget for the current school year estimates revenue of $62.5 million and expenditures of $67.6 million. It was set in June last year, a state requirement, which is before grants and other revenue is known.

The budget for the current year will be revised this spring with updated information

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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