|2/12/2021 2:11:00 PM|
North Branch budget based on one percent state pupil aid increase
The North Branch School Board was reviewing the school district budget information recently for the 2021-2022 year and if the state legislature goes with a minimum of just a one percent increase in aid, North Branch will be okay. This was a good thing for Director of Finance and Human Resources Todd Tetzlaff to be able to explain.
The district will be able to skip borrowing aid anticipation certificates next year and employee agreements are already worked into the numbers. The district also is selling some buses to the 4.0 transportation services which will net about $150,000. Also a budget positive— the overall end of year General Fund balance for 2019-2020 ended better than projected. Covid Relief monies also were used to cover most unexpected expenses.
Should legislative action result in more than a one percent funding jump, or should student enrollment numbers increase over projections, North Branch could then be in some of the best fiscal health it’s enjoyed in a long while, Tetzlaff continued.
But, the pandemic has impacted enrollment with homeschooling a popular option because alot of parents have found themselves homebound, working from home or jobless— and have time to spend on home-schooling.
North Branch K-12 grades expect to see a dip of some 128 pupils from the current enrollment of 2,504, to more like 2,377, the school board heard.
The virus sent the district “Distance Learning” program into an upward spiral this year, which had the net effect of increasing costs but the relief monies, both from Chisago County and the federal government directly, helped alleviate the pain. There were 80 students in Distance Learning Academy last year, and 500 are in the program this year, said Tetzlaff.
Transportation and social distancing concerns meant North Branch busses are run at 50 percent capacity at a time, which certainly adds costs.
Tetzlaff said, “Administrative Team meetings have taken place and are scheduled into the near future to review overall budget, and assure resources are being allocated to district priorities.”
This promising budget snapshot doesn’t hold water for years on out, Tetzlaff continued. He advised the Board, with members Osagiede and Bollman absent, where days of “cash on hand” begin to dwindle in 2024 and go into the negative range in 2025 and 2026. This is what triggers aid anticipation certificate borrowing. The basic problem has always been, and is projected to continue to be, that state aid doesn’t keep up with inflation.