The Winona Public School Board approved a preliminary budget of $42.4 million for the 2013-14 school year without comment. This budget includes $525,000 in cuts, part of $1.6 million in anticipated budget reductions over the next three years required after years of spending down the reserves.
The board’s goal is to have at least 17 percent of annual operating expenses in reserve accounts, a level currently available for the 2013-14 school year.
The board would potentially need to cut around $700,000 for the 2014-15 school year and approximately $450,000 for the 2015-16 school year. These cuts could be reduced after expected state increases in school funding. The basic state per-pupil funding formula was increased, and for WAPS, it will mean an added $235,000 in 2014 and $240,000 in 2015. Special education funding will increase by $80,000 for the next school year. All-day kindergarten will be fully funded in 2015, which will supplement WAPS' kindergarten spending by $350,000. Finance Director Dan Pyan said they may have to cut only $300,000 for the 2014-15 school year.
The exact amount will rely on several unknown factors, including enrollment and union contracts, which are expected to be renegotiated in the coming months.
Currently there is a $1,550 per pupil unit property tax referendum in place that will be expiring in 2016; Pyan recommends the district attempt to pass another referendum in 2015.