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School board to kick off Woodson expansion

Austin Public Schools will start construction on Woodson Kindergarten Center’s expansion soon, once the Austin Public School board chooses a project bid.

Board members will choose project bids from seven companies during their Monday meeting.

“It’s exciting that probably in two weeks they’ll be breaking ground,” said Superintendent David Krenz. Krenz said Woodson’s expansion project has progressed on-schedule.

The board will also discuss getting $7 million through eight anticipation bonds in order to stave off the district’s cash flow issues. District officials weren’t expecting to borrow money until state legislators shifted $700 million in state aid from schools as part of a budget deal to get the state out of debt last summer. Legislators had already shifted millions of dollars before that, however.

The 2010 budget shift called for making 70 percent of the first budget year’s payment out to schools and then paying off the remainder over the next two years. Under the current shift, schools get 60 percent of their aid during the first year with the rest paid off in subsequent years. School districts will still get the same revenue, but a district’s cash flow will be negatively impacted.

“The shift really hurts school districts,” said Mark Stotts, finance and operations director.

District officials projected cash-flow issues to hit this summer. Stotts said the district expects to pay back the $7 million loan within 13 months. School districts across Minnesota have borrowed money to cover costs in the past couple years due to state aid shifts and inflation costs.