State aid payments to schools increase from 64 percent to 82.5 percent

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

It was learned at Monday’s Little Falls School Board meeting that state aid payable during the current school year increased from 64.3 percent to 82.5 percent of the total owed. This is a result of an improvement in the state’s budget outlook. Payments to school districts and charter schools were adjusted with the Dec. 15 payment.

In a letter from the Division of School Finance Director Tom Melcher to Minnesota superintendents, he said the November forecast showed a $1.33 billion improvement in the state’s budget outlook for the fiscal year 2012-13. That money would be allocated to reduce the school aid shifts  which were recently enacted by the legislature.

Melcher said the Dec. 15 payment included an increase of about $505.9 million to catch districts up to the amount they would have received through Dec. 15, if the current payment percentage had been set at 82.5 percent throughout the year. The current payment also included an increase of about $52.5 million to catch charter schools up to the amount they would have received if the current aid payment schedule had been at 82.5 percent throughout the year.

“This does not change the amount of money the district gets, but it’s a timing issue,” said Business Manager Nancy Henderson. The District may have to borrow less money through aid anticipation certificates than they have in the past.

The rest of the increase will be sent with remaining payments up to Feb. 28, 2013, for charter schools and by June 20, 2013, for school districts to reach the 82.5 percent of the estimated entitlement.

If further improvements in the state’s budget occur, the current payment percentage will increase again in March 2013.

Little Falls School Board briefs

Other business conducted by the Little Falls School Board night included:

• Approving the final levy of $3.744 million. This reflects a decrease of 8.54 percent over last year;

• Allowing the Art Club and the French language students to take a trip to France during June 2014. The cost is $2,997 per student and Adviser Karen Warner expects the students will raise about half the money through fundraising;

• Designating Barb Muckenhirn as the Local Education Agency representative for the 2012-13 school year;

• Approving the Initiative Foundation begin dispensing funds from the Mark Wood Foundation. In the past the Mark Wood Foundation was in charge of the disbursement of grant money, but laws have changed and legally the money must go through an established non-profit organization;

• Approving the administration request proposals for a food service management company for the 2013-14 school year with options to renew for two additional years. The district’s garden project, salad bars at the elementary schools and working with local farmers to purchase produce is required for the proposals; and

• Learning the district plans to apply for a Safe Routes to School grant. The first committee meeting will be held Thursday, Jan. 3.

The next School Board meeting will be held at the Morrison County Government Center Monday, Jan. 7, at 5 p.m.