Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) will continue the trend of spending down its reserve accounts next year, with a preliminary budget drawing $2.1 million from accounts that have fallen below the board’s goal of having two months’ expenditures in reserves.
As savings dwindle, WAPS leaders are planning to seek a new property tax referendum. WAPS Director of Finance Dan Pyan explained the current referendum will expire in 2018, and the district would have to seek a new one in 2017 to avoid a nearly $6 million drop in revenues. "[The district] would have to [seek a new referendum], no matter what, in fall of 2017," he explained. To ensure the district does not face massive financial troubles in the event such a referendum is not approved by voters, Pyan said WAPS has put the issue on the ballot a year early in the past. Then, in the event voters reject the bid for extra funding, school officials could try again before the money runs out.
In 2015 WAPS plans to spend $2,157,856.14 more than it will take in, with expenditures projected at $50,209,043.48 and revenues projected at $48,051,187.34.
Major reserve accounts will fall below the board's goal of two months, or 16.66 percent, of annual expenditures. The 2015 general fund reserves are projected to fall to $5,486,399.21, or 14.14 percent of annual expenditures; the nutrition fund reserves are expected to dip to $174,635.21, or 10.53 percent of expenditures; and the Community Education reserves are projected at $226,444.15, 11.43 percent of expenditures.
“Well, it just means the board made a decision to [spend reserves] and get all of the contracts settled, so they decided the 14.5 percent would be okay. It’s still a lot of good reserve,” Pyan said of dwindling reserve accounts, adding other districts have less.