Waconia School Board examines funding changes

During a brief meeting and work session of the Waconia School Board on July 22, the board reviewed details about how ISD 110 will be affected by legislative changes regarding levy revenue taken earlier this year.
One of the main changes involves how the state will fund school districts starting in FY 2013 and beyond.
A new legislative authority called the Location Equity Index will determine the amount of funds that are automatically given to school districts. A variety of factors, such as the amount of industry located in a district, are considered to determine a district’s amount of funding.
According to Finance Director Todd Swanson, it appears that the funds that ISD 110 will receive under the new formula will basically take the place of the money that is currently being generated by the operating levy that is due to expire at the end of this year. As such, the board is not currently planning on asking voters to approve an additional operating levy this fall.
School officials are still reviewing how the new funding system will affect ISD 110 beyond next year but it appears that the proportion of state funding received by ISD 110 could increase compared to current levels, which would be a positive for local taxpayers.
The new legislation also provides additional funding earmarked for All Day Every Day Kindergarten. As explained by Swanson, All Day Every Day Kindergarten will be available at no cost for families, beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
“Currently the district offers either a free half day program or an extended full day program for a fee of $1,250 per year,” Swanson said. “In 2012-13, we had approximately 60 students in the half day program and another 200 students in the fee based all day every day program. We expect to continue to offer a half day program in 2014-15 for the families that want it. More will be known once registrations for the program are sent out in the spring of 2014. Program offerings will be adjusted based on parental input received at that time.”
Also during the evening:
• The board held a discussion about district needs regarding facilities and fields. In general, the board agreed that staying on top of facility needs was the top priority, especially considering that the district continues to grow by 130 students each year. However, the board also recognized the district is in definite need for additional field space to accommodate all of the activities that use the current fields.
The board discussed a number of approaches to address the field issues. Ideas included exploring some sort of field use partnership with the city, securing corporate or organizational sponsors for fields, and tying in new fields with future facilities. In the coming months, officials will try to quantify the challenges associated with current levels of field use so they can better determine how to approach the problem.
• In an update on the 2013 Capital Improvement Plan, projects that are currently underway and were expected to be substantially completed by the end of July include: high school gymnasium and vo-tech area roof replacement, athletic field improvements, installation of new kindergarten hallway door at Southview, baseball field work at Bayview (related to Twins grant), and repainting of the gym at Clearwater.
Other projects that are currently underway that are expected to be completed by the start of school (unless noted) include: seal coating of various parking lots, southwest corner roof replacement at Bayview, replacement of gymnasium movable wall with a curtain at the high school, replacement of north hallway second floor window and Bayview, and resurfacing and expanded high jump area at Bayview (fall).
• The board acknowledged several recent donations, including $2,000 by the Waconia Lions Club for a lacrosse scoreboard, $4,970.48 by the Bayview PTO and $4,394.36 by the Southview PTO for Student Island and Accelerated Reader Fees and $4,000 by the Bayview Teaching Staff for the purchase of classroom materials.
• The board’s next meeting will be held at city hall at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 12.

Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com

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