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.
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.
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.