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home : columnists : columnists May 24, 2016

10/12/2013 2:11:00 PM
Education Update

Many of you have asked "Why aren't we going for a referendum this year?" There are several answers to this question.

First of all Cannon Falls Schools has done a remarkable job of building the fund balance. Just like your home checkbook, we have had to make tough decisions and really tightened our belt.

A 1.5% increase to the basic formula for each of the next two years was a good way to start. The basic formula goes from $5,224 per pupil to $5,302 for 2013-14 and $5,806 for 2014-15. As recommended by the working group, the pupil weightings change to 1.0 for students in elementary and 1.2 for secondary students in the 2014-15 school year. This will lower the total pupil counts for all districts. Therefore, the $504 basic formula increase in the second year includes the 1.5% increase of $80 and a $424 adjustment to hold districts harmless when the pupil ratings are changed.

The biggest factor for our school was the Location Equity Index (LEI) that was created, allowing metro school districts (our district goes into Dakota County so we qualify) to shift up to $424 of the existing school levy and $212 for all other districts with greater than 2000 students into LEI. This portion of the district's levy will never need to be renewed. The levy cap is reduced by $424 in the metro and $212 for districts with more than 2000 students. A metro district could set aside $724 per pupil in the current school levy that would never have to be renewed. Districts below $724, could levy up to that amount by school board authority. All other districts with more than 2000 pupil units would have board authority up to $512. This begins in 2014-15 and is adjusted for new pupil weightings.

What this means for Cannon Falls is:

Location Equity $424

Board Approved Levy $300

Pupil units over 2,000 0

In addition, an increase of $10 million in 2013-14 and $30 million in 2014-15 in special education funding to reduce the cross subsidy has been a saving grace from our Legislature. For years this cross subsidy has really caused havoc on our budget, most years dipping into the general fund to cover the losses. Also fully funding all day every day kindergarten at the same level as all other elementary grades will dramatically help Cannon Falls Schools.

That's the condensed version of "why." Stop in for a visit and I can explain in more detail. This last legislative session really was a positive for our school. Senator Matt Schmit will be at our Board meeting on October 14 if you would like to ask him about school equity from his perspective.

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