Osakis Voices: Education funding is complex
Surprise: According to Dictionary.com, the word surprise means the following: "to strike or occur to with a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment, as through unexpectedness; come upon or discover suddenly and unexpectedly; to elicit or bring out suddenly and without warning."
The Osakis Review published an article titled "School gets $300,000 surprise" on the front page of the February 20, 2019 edition. Upon first glance at this heading, someone might think, "Wow! The school gets an extra $300,000." Also, after reading the entire article, someone might think, "Why can't the school project budgets to be closer to an accurate amount?"
The state of Minnesota requires public school districts to have a school board-approved adopted budget for the next year submitted to the state by June 30 of each year. On June 1, 2018, Osakis Public School had a K-12 enrollment of 800 students. On September 4, 2018, the first day of school for the 2018-2019 school year, Osakis Public School had 837 students. The increase of 37 students in just three months was the reason the projections were off and reflected a higher dollar amount at our February school board meeting.
The Osakis Public School Board adopted a preliminary budget during June of 2018 based on enrollment as of June 1, 2018. Fortunately, Osakis School is a wonderful place for students to work hard and earn a great education. We have dedicated teachers and support staff, good programs, implementation of technology in our curriculum, a variety of extra-curricular activities to choose from, a supportive community, and excellent students. I would like to think the reason for the increase of students is because of the many positive things happening at Osakis Public School.
Our school community knew about the increase in the number of students at the beginning of this school year because teachers and support staff made preparations for these additional students. We also know throughout the school year what our exact number of students is at every grade level, at both the start and end of every month. It is not uncommon in school districts for the number of students to fluctuate both positively and/or negatively throughout the year.
As I mentioned at a school board meeting last summer, I wanted our school district to do an adjusted budget in February to reflect an update — midterm, if you will — on expenses that have occurred so far this school year. At the February school board meeting, the discussion about the increase of students at the beginning of the school year came about as a result of the school board discussion and approval of our 2018-2019 revised budget.
Rest assured, Osakis Public School didn't get a $300,000 check from the state because of the increase in students. Money comes into school districts at different times in different amounts. Education funding is very complex. "Financing Education in Minnesota 2018-2019, A Publication of the Minnesota House of Representatives Fiscal Analysis Department" is 74 pages of extremely tedious reading. I am more than happy to share this document with anyone who might be interested. The basic general education formula amount for every student is $6,312. Each student, however, is different. There are other revenue sources from Minnesota that may increase that total dollar amount, as well as Federal revenue, Special Education revenue, and levy sources too, just to name a few.
The Minnesota Department of Education, financial and regional co-ops, and our school auditor monitor public schools with a fine tooth comb. Osakis is no exception. The increase in students is not only great because of the monetary implications for Osakis Public School, but more importantly to me, because they will receive a great education and become a contributing member of our society.
I guess a more appropriate title for the article, in my opinion, would be "Osakis school pleasantly surprised!"
Osakis Voices is rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.