The Mohonasen Board of Education on April 8 approved a proposed $54.35 million budget for the 2019-20 school year. The proposed budget, which will go before residents during a public vote on Tuesday, May 21, eliminates 21 full-time equivalent positions and keeps the tax levy increase at the state cap.
A budget hearing and Meet the Candidates Night for the Board of Education will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 13 in the Mohonasen High School LGI. District residents should also check their mail this spring for the annual budget newsletter which outlines the proposed budget in more detail. Information is also available at www.mohonasen.org/budget.
Under the school board’s adopted budget for the 2019-2020 school year, spending would increase by $1.29 million, or 2.43 percent. Prescription drug costs, as well as contractual costs such as salaries and other benefits, contribute to this year’s spending increases.
The proposed budget carries a tax levy increase of $1,042,745, or 3.82 percent, which is at the district’s limit – or cap – as calculated by the state formula. As a result, a simple majority (50 percent plus one vote) is needed for approval on May 21.
The district had been hopeful the state would significantly amend Mohonasen’s Foundation Aid allotment, but the small increase was not enough to balance the budget. After reviewing final state aid figures and assessing feedback from the school community, the Board of Education approved a 2019-20 budget that preserves the district’s elementary orchestra program and reduces the impact of music staffing reductions, but eliminates 19 full-time equivalent positions.
“Despite advocacy efforts by our community and the support of our state legislators aimed at securing state aid owed to the district, the recently adopted state budget managed to increase Mohonasen’s aid by just $57,000,” said Superintendent Shannon Shine. “However, as a school district, part of our responsibility is to listen to the community at-large when determining budget priorities and that is what we are doing.”
Positions eliminated under the proposal include two full-time administrators, six elementary school teachers, three secondary teachers, one librarian, one part-time music teacher, one part-time art teacher, two cleaners, two monitors, one IT technician, one bus mechanic, one account clerk in the Central Office and one additional clerical position. Nearly 45 percent of these reductions were completed through attrition and retirement incentives.
District officials estimate the reductions will increase class size in grades K-6 by 1 to 4 students per section. Secondary class sizes and course offerings will also be impacted by the reductions.
“We are trying to financially right the ship and it’s our intention to maintain and grow the excellent programs and academic offerings we currently have in Mohonasen,” Shine said. “Our fiscal reality is stressed, but it would be even more challenging and disruptive if we failed to address it.”
To help balance the budget, the district will also use $2.05 million in appropriated fund balance and reserves. Fund balance and reserves are residual funds the district has after all expenses have been taken into account — in essence, a district’s savings account.
If the proposed budget is approved by voters, the estimated annual tax increase on an average Rotterdam home with a $150,000 full value assessment will be approximately $73.65.