Willmar Task Force Meeting 1 Summary - 2/7/23
The community-based task force met in-person on the evening of Tuesday, February 7 to get an overview of the Willmar Public Schools’ financial situation and issues currently facing the district.
Presentation on Current Situation
Assistant Superintendent Bill Adams presented a deep dive into school finance and how it relates to our district and set the tone for how we got here. Additionally, a section of the presentation was devoted to the variables that could affect the district’s budget in the coming year.
The district expects to see a $5 million spending deficit in FY23 (the 2022-2023 school year) and believes the prudent step is to make a $2 million budget cut to begin to address this spending shortfall and preserve monies in the district’s General Fund, which has been seeing sharp declines over the past three years. If no adjustments are made, it is likely that by FY24, the district will be in Statutory Operating Debt (a fund balance, or district savings account, of -2.5 percent of the annual budget) or very close.
Dr. Adams cites a lag in state funding that hasn’t kept pace with inflation as one factor in the current financial situation, along with declining enrollment. Additionally, the district faces other issues, including the special education cross subsidy where the State doesn’t provide enough funds, which leaves districts having to take out of their general fund to pay excess costs of special education. The cost for employee retention in a tight employment market has also played a role in the costs the district shoulders, as unemployment rates continue to remain low, and it remains difficult to hire qualified staff for key positions.
Discussion from Community Members
A number of issues were identified by task force members and many questions were asked of the district via Google Forms, following the meeting. A summary of the FAQs from the community and staff is here.