The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 15, 2012

Mankato Schools revenue expected to increase

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Due mostly to increasing district enrollment, Mankato Area Public Schools is projecting a 2.61 percent increase in general revenue for the 2013-14 school year.

Enrollment has gone up 10 percent in the past 10 years and is projected to increase another 10 percent during the next five years. Supt. Sheri Allen and Jerry Kolander, director of business affairs, updated the School Board Monday during a study session on revenue and general fund projections.

Allen said the revenue increase is obviously positive for the district.

“It’s very positive because we get to maintain the programs we have,” Allen said.

Kolander said the projections are based on current state funding models and could change.

“We’re basing this on assumptions, I guess,” Kolander said. “We don’t know what the legislature is going to do, and after the election we don’t know what the legislature will look like.”

The district also ended the 2011-12 school year with the largest undesignated general fund balance since, at least, 25 years ago when Kolander began in the district: $9.3 million. (Although Kolander said inflation has to be factored in when comparing previous years’ numbers.)

The large fund balance has to do with a number of factors, Allen said, including last year’s mild winter, which saved the district about $300,000 in heating costs and snow removal, among other expenses.

“We just came off of the mildest winter we have had in history,” Kolander said. “It was a nice windfall.”

Kolander said $9.3 million covers 54 days of operating expenses. Allen said the district policy is to always have at least 30 days of operating funds.

“We did this kind of intentionally, too, because the state has delayed the payment we’re getting,” Kolander said.

The fund balance projection for the end of the 2012-13 school year is $9.1 million and is $7.7 million by the end of the 2013-14 school year. The decrease is due to an estimated 3 percent increase in expenses over the next two years without an increase in state aid, Kolander said.

Kolander said a 3 percent inflation rate is typical.

“We hit 2.5 percent a couple of years,” Allen said. “We have never gone over 3 percent.”

Allen said a $7.7 million fund balance is still well above the 30 days of needed operating funds, which is a little more than $6 million.