Mahtomedi School Board Violates Own School District Finance Policy - "714 Fund Balance Policy"
MAHTOMEDI, MN - At the Thursday Night Mahtomedi Public School Board Meeting the 2019-20 Preliminary Financial Budget revealed failing financial reserves of only 2.2%, which is below the school district's set policy of maintaining 8% in financial reserves. These preliminary financial budget figures included a local property tax increase that was approved by the voters this past fall, and payable in 2020. According to the Mahtomedi Public Schools "714 Fund Balance Policy,"
"The business office shall monitor the fund balance. If the fund balance falls below 8%, the school board shall implement a procedure to stabilize the district's financial position. This may involve, but is not limited to:
A. No new programs will be added at the district level unless matched by a like revenue source;
B. Allocations such as textbooks, supplies, etc., shall be frozen; and
C. The district will review other measures which will not immediately affect delivery of programs but could have a cost savings. The district may take measures to either generate additional revenues or reduce expenditures through budget cuts or a combination of both. "
Mahtomedi Public Schools Business Finance Manager, Bill Menozzi, presented the 2019-20 Preliminary Budget to the school board and it did not yield one question, concern or discussion from any school board member about the dwindling financial reserves or potential impact to the school district. Mahtomedi School Board Chair, Lucy Payne, only made one comment after Menozzi's presentation, "nice spreadsheet." The Mahtomedi School Board unanimously approved the preliminary budget.
Neighbor School Districts Show Higher Financial Reserve Balances than Mahtomedi Public Schools
The annual financial clock for Minnesota School Districts is uniform, and 2019-20 School District Financial Budgets must be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education in June. Upon further research, Stillwater Area Public Schools reported having projected reserves of 4.64%, which is a increase of .64% from 2018-19. During Thursday Night's Stillwater Area Public Schools Board Meeting, also approving their 2019-20 Preliminary Budget, School Board Member Sarah Stivland, commented she would like to see more savings in the school district's finances. Vice Chair Shelley Pearson, pointed out that financial reserves have increased over last year, but would like to be above the Stillwater Area Public Schools Board Policy of 5% in reserves.
Neighbor White Bear Lake Area Schools reported healthy reserves of 10.51% in their 2018-19 preliminary budget. Meanwhile, North St. Paul, Maplewood & Oakdale Public Schools did not have their 2018-19 Preliminary Budget prepared in their public materials, in 2018 their audited financial reported stated financial reserves of 10.3%. North St. Paul, Maplewood & Oakdale Public Schools Board Policy requires a 5% to 7% minimum in financial reserves.
Mahtomedi Public Schools Pats Themselves on Back for Certificate of Excellence Award for Certified Annual Financial Reporting
Also at Thursday Night's School Board Meeting, Mahtomedi Public Schools celebrated and accepted an award for their financial reporting (not an award for financial health or condition of the school district). The award was presented by Superintendent Barb Duffrin and Menozzi. The award was given by the Association of School Business Officials International and according to their website an application fee was required to apply for the award in the amount of $985 (members) and $1300 (non-members). School Board Member Kevin Donovan boasted that the award was "very impactful" and "only given to 23 out of the 332 Minnesota School Districts." Donovan or the school district did not reveal how many other Minnesota Public School Districts actually applied for the award, or were rejected, or how this award furthered the education of the students.