Cuts to Student Programs and Class Size Increases are being planned. School Board makes best guess with Student Enrollment Projections. 

MAHTOMEDI, MN - At tonight's Mahtomedi School Board Meeting a $1.6 million dollar budget deficit was announced. Plans to reduce school district expenditures were brought forth by Mahtomedi School District Finance Director, Bill Menozzi. Potential adjustments and reductions include: eliminating 8 B Squad Sport Coaches and the Alpine Skiing Program at the high school level, increased class sizes and reduction of staff across all Mahtomedi Schools. 

Mahtomedi School Board Member Mike Chevalier pointed out that the school district is "stuck between a rock and a hard place.," when it comes to financials. There was heavy board discussion on how many open enrollment students to accept now versus waiting to get more data in before making any decisions. Chevalier motioned to accept all open enrolled students that were siblings or children of employees. The motion was rejected. Board Member Lucy Payne thought it was too premature and didn't want to accept students at certain grade levels that the schools would potentially not have room for down the road. In the end the school board approved a projected student enrollment number of 3288, which is 40 students more than they have this enrolled this school year. The projected enrollment number will allow the school district to build a budget for the 2018-19 school year, but this amount will still require over $1 million in expenditure reductions. But if the projected enrollment number falls short there will be more financial consequences for the school district. 

Sustainability of the Mahtomedi School District in Question

Superintendent Mark Larson pointed out that this Mahtomedi High School Class of 2018 will graduate 282 students. With kindergarten being projected at a student enrollment of 182 (same as this school year), the school district must find 100 students to make up that difference. Menozzi painted the picture of a fragile school district with sustainability up in the air. Earlier this month, Superintendent Mark Larson announced he will retire in June, two years before his contract expired. The school board agreed to retain the MSBA (Minnesota School Board Association), the lobbying arm for school board administrations, to help in the search for Larson's replacement. The Mahtomedi School District will pay the MSBA fees for these services. The amount was not disclosed.


No Cuts to District Administration Planned

While there were many potential plans announced to reduce student offerings and increase class sizes, there was no discussion of cuts in the school district administration office. According the Minnesota Department of Education Fiscal Year 2016 Expenditure Report, the Mahtomedi School District spends around $600 per student for district administration. This is above the state average and over $100 more per student in comparison to neighboring Stillwater Schools.  

School District Will Ask Local Property Taxpayers for New Property Tax Levy Assessment this November

The school district last passed a local property tax levy in the Fall of 2014, by a very narrow 2% margin. Now the school district will ask voters to approve additional local property tax assessments. According to Menozzi, the school district has $900 per student available until the school district reaches the maximum property tax levy amount under state law. Reaching the maximum would equal a request of a tax levy amount of $2.9 million. Payne felt that by accepting more non-resident open enrolled students it could jeopardize the chances of the local community passing any new property tax levies. Payne pointed out this was a big issue in the last levy vote. Non-resident open enrolled students only generate state aid dollars which averages $6312 per student. According to Minnesota Department of Education General Education Funding Supervisor, Jon VanOeveren, "Open enrolled students do not carry referendum revenue with them from their resident district." The total cost to educate a student in Mahtomedi Public Schools last year was $11,262.