[Eden Prairie] School Board adopts 2012-13 budget

/ 28 June 2012 / jennifer

Patty Dexter, Eden Prairie News, June 28, 2012 –

Eden Prairie Schools has a balanced budget going into the 2012-13 school year.

The School Board adopted the 2012-13 budget on Tuesday.

By the numbers

Eden Prairie Schools 2012-13 general fund
Anticipated revenues: $92,430,000
Anticipated expenditures: $93,039,000

Superintendent Jon McBroom said the budget process for the 2012-13 year started earlier than prior years. The board approved a set of budget assumptions in March. It agreed with administrative recommendations without a formal vote in April to go forward with about $3.2 million in budget reductions and using $1.2 million from the unassigned fund balance to address a $4.4 million deficit in the budget.

Having those approved assumptions and decisions made early helped the budget process go smoothly, McBroom added.

“I think it’s a good balance between the budget reductions we’ve done and … use of the general fund balance, “ he said. “We can only do that for a few times before we use all of that [fund balance].”

The anticipated revenues for all of the budget’s funds are $125,323,000 and the expected expenditures are $147,585,000. Patricia Magnuson, chief operating officer, said on Monday these numbers are a little misleading because some of the expenses are restricted funds for post employment benefits, deferred maintenance and debt service. Those funds are generated from previous years and aren’t recorded as new revenue in the current budget.

The general fund, considered to be the operating portion of the budget, has anticipated revenues of $92,430,000 and anticipated expenditures of $93,039,000.

“It was sort of a shared process, making cuts and using a little bit of fund balance. I think it’s a modest amount of fund balance, while it’s something we don’t like to do, it was a prudent step this year,” Magnuson said.

Magnuson said the unassigned fund balance is expected to be at $12.8 million at the end of the 2012-13 school year. At that level the fund balance would be at 13.7 percent, which is a little more than two months of expenses, including payroll. The budget assumptions adopted by the board state the minimum general fund balance would be maintained at a level between 8 percent and 10 percent.

Request to hold off on projects

During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, Caroline Nelson, a parent of three students in the district, addressed the board about two projects that are included in the district’s bond funding. She asked the board to hold off on spending those dollars for improvements to the playground near the Administrative Services Center and installing an elevator in the center.

“I’m asking you to hold off on spending taxpayer money until you have an idea of what’s going on,” she said.

McBroom said Nelson’s requests were a legitimate concern. Those two projects are placeholders because the district does not want to lose the idea for those items. However, the district needs more specific planning on what the playground improvements would entail and how the building would be used before making any decisions. Adding just one elevator doesn’t solve issues with movement between different levels or Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, he added.

“I am going to be recommending that we would not spend those dollars in this next year,” he said.

Legislative update

42B Rep. Jenifer Loon provided a legislative update to the board. She said the state worked through a tough budget process in the most recent biennium and managed to close a $6 billion budget gap. The state is projected to have a surplus, which will allow school districts to be repaid some of the money from the most recent school funding shift.

The state also is providing one-time compensatory funding. Eden Prairie was one of 20 school districts to receive that funding, Loon said. McBroom said the compensatory dollars didn’t provide a significant increase in revenue but has allowed the district to replace federal funding it recently lost.

“I was pleased that we were able to provide some increase in education funding,” Loon said.