It's that uncomfortable, even ugly time of year for Minnesota school districts.
They all must adopt their 2009-10 budgets even though the biggest factor in those plans - how much state funds will come their way - remains unclear. Worse yet, barring a miracle, that will likely be the case for several more weeks, even months.
So as districts move toward trying to create a budget without knowing how much they do (or don't) have to spend, we urge them to avoid leaning too heavily on reserves to fill potential gaps - especially gaps that might be addressed through other means, including cuts in programs and resources.
That sounds harsh, but using reserves is generally a one-time, emergency-only solution. There is nothing to signal that state's education funding formula or its economy are rapidly nearing much-needed improvements.
As much as we would like to think we are at rock bottom on both those issues, what if economic times get worse or funding formulas become even more convoluted?
The reality is there are no monetary saviors (or federal stimulus packages) on the 2010-11 horizon. So why tap reserves now when you may need them even more in a few years?
- St. Cloud Times
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