MAHTOMEDI — After a year of pulling in the district’s financial reins, it appears Mahtomedi Public Schools is starting to come out of the woods.

No budget cuts unrelated to enrollment have been proposed for next school year. This school year, budget cuts were felt by every school; Wildwood Elementary School, for example, had no principal on site. This fall, however, new principal Scott Briske will greet students as they return to school. The family and consumer science program eliminated at the high school will also be replaced.

However, not all positions cut this school year will be funded next school year. Despite the levy passed by voters last fall that will provide additional funding into the future, the district will need time to catch up, said Finance Director Bill Menozzi. The levy will be used to keep schools safe and reduce deficits. Schools across the state also continue to be underfunded by the state based on inflation.

Last spring, the district had a projected $1.6 million budget shortfall for the 2018-2019 school year. Budget cuts that impacted about 30 staff positions, plus other measures, helped get the district back on track, according to Press archives.

This next school year, a $47,000 surplus is expected, according to the preliminary 2019-2020 budget presented by Menozzi at a May 23 school board meeting. The grand total revenues and expenditures for all funds is expected to be about $55.7 million. In the general fund, the district expects to receive $41.2 million and spend $41.1 million; it projects about a $100,000 surplus.

The community service, debt services and internal service funds are also projected to be at a surplus. The other post-employment benefits trust fund, used for teacher severance payments, is expected to show a negative balance of about $185,000. “That is reasonable and expected for that trust fund,” Menozzi noted.  

The food service fund is expected to be in the red. “We are projecting just a slight deficit of about $4,500 in the food service fund for next year,” Menozzi said. The food service supervisor fee (in partnership with Stillwater Public Schools) increased and food service staff were given a cost of living adjustment.

“I think the budget is in better shape this year in terms of being better balanced,” Menozzi noted. “I feel like the adjustments that we have made and the analysis on enrollment that we have done gives us a good chance to bring a balanced budget for next year.”

Even though the budget is looking better for next school year, the district is still expected to be out of compliance with its fund balance policy. The district is supposed to maintain a fund balance of 8% of general fund expenditures, according to policy. The projected fund balance for 2019-2020 is $2.5 million, or 2% of general fund expenditures. Due to the projected deficit, textbook and classroom supply purchases are still frozen and no new programs without specific revenue will be added, according to district policy. 

It took a number of years for the district’s fund balance to dip so low, and it will take a number of years to build it back up, Menozzi explained.

The board is expected to review and approve the preliminary budget June 27.


In other action the school board:

• Heard an annual report on the Mahtomedi Compensation Plan (MCP)/Q-Comp plan. The state program allows districts and teacher representatives to design and collectively bargain for career advancement, professional development, teacher evaluation and pay. The state requires an annual report.

• Put two staff on unrequested leave of absence. The two part-time teachers are no longer needed based on student enrollment, said Superintendent Barb Duffrin. The teachers are O.H. Anderson gifted and talented third grade teacher Julie Edwards and English as a second language teacher Holly Packard.

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