Based on revised projections, primarily due to the recent changes in special education funding, the Brainerd School District unreserved general fund balance may grow to $4.8 million by June 30 - an increase of another nearly $2 million.
That number should only be penciled in as a lot may change before then starting on Friday when Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to announce his budget cuts to address the state's immediate deficit of more than $400 million.
But if no changes should occur that would impact the current projected budget, the Brainerd School District could see $1.9 million more in its unreserved general fund balance by June 30 than initially anticipated.
The school board's Finance Committee met Thursday to hear the budget revisions that could bring the unreserved general fund balance from $2.95 million to $4.87 million by June 30.
Brainerd Superintendent Steve Razidlo said the revisions are primarily due to special education revenue. Razidlo said the state is giving school districts more money in special education for a two-year period. School officials predict the district could receive $1.6 million in additional special education revenue in fiscal year 2009.
"The whole special education model was flipped and we're just getting a grip on it," said Razidlo. "Districts all across the state see this as a difficult target to predict."
Another main revision to the budget was in salary adjustments. The district took out $330,000 in expenditures that was originally budgeted for non-certified staff settlements. Razidlo said this change means that there is no longer an assumption of salary increases included in the budget.
The district currently is in the middle of negotiations with its non-certified staff and Razidlo said, "The district must follow the lawful practice of good-faith negotiations."
The district's Personnel Committee met in a closed session following the finance meeting to discuss strategies for its non-certified staff. No action was taken when the meeting reopened.
Other revisions discussed Thursday addressed severance pay for retiring staff and a savings in re-employment claims.
In regard to grants, Razidlo said the state now requires districts to include grant funds in the budget. The district has $982,000 in grants in the 2008-09 budget, which reflects an equal amount of revenue and expenditures.
Declining enrollment also played a role in revisions to the budget. Razidlo said average daily enrollment was dropped from an estimated 6,757 students to 6,601 students. As a result, the per student state aid to the district would drop by an estimated $375,000.
The revised budget also shows a decrease of $124,000 in the estimated revenue generated from athletics fees as a result of a drop in estimated participation.
The school district historically revises its original budget in March.
One of the reasons to revise the budget is because of the deep cuts that had to be made, Razidlo said. "We need to take time out to look at where we're at so we can be more secure in our finances."
In the 2007-08 school budget, as announced this fall, the school district's unreserved fund balance grew by an unbudgeted amount of $2 million.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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