reveal how deep cuts must go
To balance its budget, the Winona Area Public School Board of Education will have to cut its budget by $500,000 a year for the next three years.
This has been a rough figure for months, and in the end the board may have to cut deeper than anticipated. After the district audit report provides final budgetary figures on Thursday, school officials will have more solid numbers to use to determine how much money must be cut.
Also expected is a “state of the budget” presentation by School Finance Officer Dan Pyan, after which school board members will have the chance to ask questions and learn more about district spending and future budget projections.
The school board has been discussing a process recommended by administrators for the way the budget reductions should be identified. The administrative process would have a committee composed of district staff members meet in the coming months in order to determine recommendations for ways to cut spending.
Board member Mohamed Elhindi has attempted several times to include more board and public participation in the budget cutting process, rather than simply waiting to receive recommendations from administrators and staff. He has said that including the public and the board in the process of identifying budget cuts would add transparency and accountability to this process. However, not all of Elhindi’s suggestions have been well received by other board members, and board chair Greg Fellman recently told him that public involvement in the initial stages of formulating budget cuts could turn into a raging debate that would damage public trust in the district.
Elhindi asked for a few minutes at the board meeting Thursday to propose a few changes to the budget reduction process that has been recommended by administrators. That request was honored with a spot on the agenda for the meeting Thursday.
A request last month from board member Jay Kohner for a discussion of the role of the board’s finance committee has yet to be included on a board agenda.