The Other Shoe Drops

Our budget reserve comes close to evaporating. Here’s the straight forward story from the Trib.

Like member Nora Sandstad, Alanna Oswald and I were told by the Superintendent that Special education “cross subsidy” payments to Edison skyrocketed by about a million more dollars this year. The explanation had something to do with a legislative change in the special ed formula that caught the Minnesota Department of Education by surprise.

I am puzzled however by Jana Hollingsworth’s report that Edison got $1.7 million from us four years ago in 2013 but is getting $2 million this year. That’s only a $300,000 increase not a million. Did the “cross subsidy drop to $1 million last year? I don’t know. I’ll have to have this all explained to me in depth.

The suggestion that special education has caused our fiscal problems was part of a question addressed to five of the six at-large and District 4 candidates tonight at the League of Woman Voter’s forum. (Sally Trnka sent her regrets from a conference she had to attend) I acknowledged that this was something that merited attention but added that the payments to Edison paled before the $11 million dollars drained from the classroom in recent years to pay off Red Plan building debt. Its this debt, far more than special education, and the additional investor concern over our negligible fund reserve that has prompted Moody’s to downgrade some of our building debt to just above junk bond status.