The Brainerd School District, along with many other school districts, blames inadequate state funding in recent years for its current financial crisis.
The district receives about 72 percent of its general fund revenue from the state. After two years of zero percent funding increases in the general education formula from the state, the district has received actual annual increases of 4 percent, 4 percent, 2 percent and 1 percent - an average of 1.8 percent during the past six years.
So the question posed to school administrators was: If the state had funded education at the rate of inflation, or roughly 3 percent increases, would the Brainerd School District be asking taxpayers for an operating levy referendum this fall?
No, said Steve Dickinson, director of business services for the district.
"If we'd have gotten 3 percent increases during the past six years I would estimate we would not be having a referendum right now," said Dickinson.
Dickinson said in this scenario the district likely would have had some minor budget cuts during the past several years and spent down a good deal of its unreserved fund balance, which is like the district's savings account. But the district would have continued to have about $3 million in its unreserved fund balance right now had the Legislature funded schools in a consistent manner, he said.
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