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Willmar School Board adopts new budget, but changes are likely as fiscal year progresses

Minnesota school districts had to prepare budgets for the new fiscal year — which begins July 1 — before new levels of state aid were known, because the Legislature has only passed legislation related to education in recent days. The true financial picture for school districts following the upheaval of the pandemic may not be known for a while yet.

WCT STOCK School buses
West Central Tribune file photo
West Central Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board adopted the budget for the 2021-22 school year Monday, but many items in the budget could be adjusted as more information comes in later this year.

The budget adopted by the board at its Monday meeting was based on what was known in late May or early June, Business and Finance Director Kathryn Haase said.

School districts are required to adopt a budget before the new fiscal year starts July 1. Without it, they aren’t allowed to spend money in the new fiscal year.

The Minnesota Legislature had adjourned in May without a final budget and began a special session in mid-June. Facing the same fiscal year deadline as school districts, the Legislature has yet to complete its budget.

The Willmar Schools approved budget includes projected general fund revenue of $58 million, a decrease of about $2.2 million. However, some additional revenue already approved by the Legislature should improve that picture by about $1 million, Haase said.

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Projected general fund expenditures for the year are $62 million, and there’s a projected reduction in the district’s general fund balance.

The budget picture could be helped by being able to use federal pandemic relief aid for some expenses, too, Haase said.

The biggest question mark for the district is enrollment. The district lost about 200 students during the pandemic, and it’s unclear at this point how many might return this fall.

Much state aid is based on a school district’s student numbers, so that is another unknown going into the new fiscal year.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONMINNESOTAWILLMAR
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: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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