Budget Development in the SDMA

Budget Development in the SDMA
Posted on 06/15/2017

As we approach the end of June, officials in the business office of the School District of the Menomonie Area (SDMA) are quite busy closing out the books. The fiscal year for school districts in Wisconsin runs from July 1 to June 30, with the annual audit scheduled for the first week of August.  Our total school district budget for 2016-2017 was nearly $50 million, with approximately $35 million in general fund expenditures.


Consistent with what was shared during our mid-year budget meeting in January, finances in the SDMA have been much improved in recent years.  The fund balance for the district’s general fund is now sufficient to avoid short-term borrowing interest expenses related to operational cash flow, the district’s self-insured health insurance fund has been improved to the point where no premium increases are anticipated for this year, and the district’s obligation for post-employment benefits appears to be sustainable as the district gradually moves from a defined benefit to a defined contribution model.  The district has also established a long-term capital maintenance plan that not only identifies future needs for the district’s buildings and grounds, but also provides a manageable mechanism for funding future projects through state-aided savings in a capital improvement fund.


Despite the obvious attention that has been placed on improving the school district’s financial landscape, significant investments have also been made in the district’s greatest priority, which is best summed up in the mission of preparing ALL students to become lifelong learners, caring individuals, and responsible citizens.  Curriculum resources and instructional staff have been added in some capacity at all levels in the school district, staffing in the area of special education continues to be increased to meet the needs of our students, and the already impressive access and use of technology in our schools will be expanded next year when the district provides computing devices for all students in grades 6-12.


The Board has also continued to invest greatly in the teachers and support staff members who are so instrumental in the success of our students by providing total pay increases the past two years for each employee group that exceed inflation. Starting with the 2017-2018 school year, both starting and ending teacher salaries will be increased, teachers will no longer be required to keep track of professional performance points, SDMA teachers will be provided with greater access to incentives for advanced degrees, and all groups of school district employees will be eligible for new longevity incentives.


With all of this being noted, now is a critical time as state legislators develop the next biennial budget.  If state lawmakers approve a budget that provides public schools the funding that was proposed by the governor and supported by the state senate, it is expected that our school district should be able to continue down the previously described path to success.  If, however, the budget changes in ways that have been suggested by some legislators in the state assembly, our school district could stand to lose about $128,000 in revenue.  


While our school district’s systems are setup to allow for minor financial adjustments, a large loss in revenue, an unanticipated shift in our enrollment, or a significant change in projected expenditures, could drastically impact the financial security that we have worked so hard to achieve.  If the state budget or public school funding is something that is important to you, now is a good time to contact your local legislators through the contact information that is available at:  http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/ .


Should school families or community stakeholders have any questions or concerns about the school district budget, or anything else in our schools, I invite you to visit me at the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue, or contact me at 715-232-1642. More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (www.sdmaonline.com), and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter (www.twitter.com/sdmaonline) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/menomonie.schools)