Time to Discuss the 05-06 Budget Before Final Approval in October 2005

We may have thought the 2005-2006 MMSD budget was approved last spring, but, in fact, the budget for this school year will not be finalized until next month. Why? The district needs to wait to calculate the number of students for this school year, which is done on the 3rd friday of the school year. This number is used to calculate the amount of state funding the district will receive and is not ready until next month. Also, the School Board uses the final budget to vote on the property tax levy to pay the property tax portion of the budget for this school year.
There’s something else that happens between the spring and fall and that is changes in expenses/revenue. In last year’s budget, there was an increase in the budget of nearly $8 million between the spring and fall approval dates (04-05 Budget Comparison file). The district administration said they put the money where it would be needed, and the School Board did not ask any questions about changes to programs and services, staffing, etc. Most of this money is grant money, but how the money is allocated and how this affects services deserves a presentation not simply a one page summary at the department level.
I hope the School Board asks for changes in revenue/expenses since last spring, how this affects staffing and programs, administrative positions. There are two dates in late October to discuss the final budget. So the School Board can “digest” the changed budget information, if any, a presentation at one meeting with a final decision at the next meeting might make sense and provide for public discussion.