After months of budget planning, the most painful part of the process begins tonight for Mankato Area Public Schools.

At its 5:30 p.m. meeting, the Mankato Area School Board will likely approve a motion directing administrators to identify upward of $3 million in budget cuts. Board members will then review an itemized list of potential reductions. They will not take any official action, however, until after the district’s public budget hearing on March 16 at Mankato East High School.

Today, district officials are meeting with staff to present the list of possible reductions. That list will be made public around 4:15 p.m. — not 3 p.m., as previously reported — when it is posted on the district’s Web site: isd77.org.

Supt. Ed Waltman said the district’s list of potential reductions already totals nearly 10 pages — and it could grow longer.

On Tuesday, a revised state budget forecast is expected to show an even deeper budget deficit than the $4 billion previously estimated. With federal stimulus funds still an unknown — and likely unavailable until summer or fall — any reductions to school funding on the state level could send districts scrambling back to the drawing board.

In Mankato, that could mean $3 million won’t be enough to balance the budget.

“When we estimated $3 million,” Waltman said, “we assumed a zero percent increase, and no cuts, to state funding. But on Tuesday, we could see an all new picture.”

Tonight’s School Board meeting will be rebroadcast on CCTV at 6 p.m. Wednesday (channel 21 for Charter, channel 8 for HickoryTech).



For the complete story, see the Tuesday, March 3, print edition of The Free Press, updates online or sign onto our e-edition.

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