Community Info Sessions for Budget Adjustment

Community Information Sessions Scheduled for the Budget Adjustment Process
Posted on 01/08/2021
Dear South Washington County Schools Families,

I would like to wish you a Happy New Year. I hope your child’s first week back to distance learning following winter break went smoothly. 

For school districts, the new year is often met with a new challenge – determining the budget for the next school year. South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo) is in the middle of a budget adjustment process to create a sustainable budget while prioritizing student learning. Thursday evening, the school board reviewed a list of proposed budget adjustments that will impact elementary, middle and high schools, in addition to district wide programs and staff.

You are invited to learn more about the budget adjustment process at one of three, virtual Community Information Sessions. Attendees will be able to listen to and review the budget presentation and will be able to provide input into the chat.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 a.m.  [Zoom Link]
  • Thursday, Jan. 14 at 12 p.m. [Zoom Link]
  • Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. [Zoom Link]
Over the last four years, the cost of educational services in SoWashCo has continued to outpace the funding available to fully support our operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional unexpected costs, declining enrollment districtwide and uncertainty for state aid.

A budget adjustment committee of school and department leaders developed ideas on how to increase revenue (such as fees) and reduce expenses. Our goal is to cut $18 million over the next three years. Of that $18 million, our goal was to reduce the budget by $12 million in the 2021-22 school year with other reductions for the remaining two years (2022-23 and 2023-24). We are also considering whether we need to ask you, our voters, to approve an operating levy to increase funding for basic school operating costs. I know this news comes at a bad time on top of an already extremely difficult year with COVID-19. It is important to understand that the reductions we make the first year, will help us realize sustained savings and potentially reduce the need for greater cuts in the years to come. Unfortunately, reductions in the budget will mean changes and reductions in services we currently provide. 

The reason for taking action now instead of waiting to reduce the budget is because:
  • Current enrollment for the 2020-21 school year fell by 500 students creating an additional $5.5 million shortfall. 
  • Current spending, including unfunded and required programs, is outpacing current revenue (the money the district brings in through taxes, funding sources, etc.)
  • School board policy requires us to have a set amount in our general fund of 5-9% (the district’s savings account). Currently that account has enough savings for only six days of operations.
  • Our fund balance is projected to go below board policy
The Board is scheduled to take action on the budget adjustment recommendations for the 2021-22 school year during the regularly-scheduled board meeting on Jan. 21. If you would like to provide input following the Community Information Sessions, you may complete this form and select “Budget”. We will  share your response with the school board. 

Thank you for all you do for your child and for supporting South Washington County Schools.

Sincerely,

Julie's Signature

Julie Nielsen
Superintendent