Looking ahead for APS’ school budget for next year

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Despite school being out for the summer, officials were still hitting the books to prepare the district for the next year.

Behind the scenes, Lori Volz, director of finance and operations, has been pouring over numbers to help figure out how much Austin Public Schools will have for the school year. Since much of the district’s funding streams are based on average daily membership (student enrollment), it’s hard to gauge exactly the specific amount the district will generate.

Lori Volz

“We don’t have final enrollment data yet,” Volz said. “We will be taking a snapshot of our student enrollment on Oct. 1 and that is going to be important to determine student counts, trends, and estimate our year-end and yearly memberships will be. We’re using conservative numbers since we don’t have final enrollment data.”

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With the new two percent increase to the basic formula for the general education revenue, APS is currently estimated to see budget revenues of about $69.4 million and expenditures of $71.6 million. Contributing to the expenses were one-time purchases for technology components that weren’t covered by grants, as well as one-time purchases for the MacPhail Music Annex project.

“It is one example of some tech that wasn’t covered by a grant,” Volz said. “We anticipate that our budget numbers will improve within the next budget amendment. I’m examining and researching all avenues for creating new funding streams, tapping into funds that are revenues we’re entitled to be receiving, and finding ways to be cost efficient. We were already putting things into place.”

Another highlight for the upcoming budget is the new funding formula for special education that has been updated. This means increased funding for the school district, which Volz believes will be “helpful” to providing essential services for students with special needs.

“There’s increases with both of those formulas; at this point, our general ed revenue is gonna depend on our enrollment numbers,” Volz said. “We’ve been conservative with our accounts, but we should know more on Oct. 1. The special ed fund will be updated from the Minnesota Department of Education in November. This fall, everything will become more clear in knowing what our funding will really be and bring us a lot of clarity.”