ISD 709 $ cuts to gen X and gen Y

A Mr/Mrs. D (or some other letter of the alphabet who wishes to keep him/herself anonymous) sent me this Answer to a Question on ISD 709’s website:

Will there be a budget deficit next year?

Yes, and we project budget deficits for at least the next 5 years for several reasons. For nearly two decades, increases to our per-pupil funding from the state have not kept pace with increases in the cost of living. Some key expenses are rising significantly, like health care coverage, transportation expenses, and energy costs. Our enrollment is declining due in large part to Generation X being smaller than previous generations, and a recent demographic report projects that decline to continue through 2013. Combine those three factors and you get budget deficits. We’re not alone, most school districts in Minnesota face these same challenges.
We address this situation by reducing our budget each year. Our district has managed to balance revenue to expense each year by reducing our budget by about $24 million over the past 5 years. We will need to address a budget deficit in 2012-13 and for several years to come.

The Q Mr./Mrs D asks is this:

Weren’t the last Gen-X students born in 1980 and thus out of high school? I thought the current kids were Gen Y or Millennials… and they are largely the kids of Baby Boomers and have little to do with Gen X as far as I understand it…

If I’ve got the XY and Us Baby Boomers figured out correctly my children were Xers (indeed a smaller group) who went to the Duluth schools after being born between 1980 – 1995. Their children, including my two (so far) grandchildren are the Y’s or Millennials. To answer Mr/Mrs D’s Q: I don’t know if the millennials will be smaller in Duluth or not so I don’t know if the District PR folks are blowing smoke. What I do know is that a thousand or more children have left the Duluth Schools. Some may be coming back but not the 140 that have been added to the Edison Public Schools this year. As well as another few hundred from other recent years.

What does catch my attention is the claim that state funding reductions account for the 24 million in budget reductions over the past five years. The state has been stingy but just look at last year. If 1000 students were out of our school times $5000 apiece in state funds that is $5 million less. It all had to be cut from the budget. I’m sure that even more than 1,000 kids were transferred out last year. But if we stick to the number 1,000 fewer students times $5,000 times five years that would account for budget cuts of $25 million. (One million over the District’s claimed $24 million) $25 million can not be accurate because the enrollment drop gradually increased over the past five years to the level of 1,000. Still, the loss of students in ISD 709 had far more to do with the budget cuts than the state holding its per student funding at the level of inflation. In fact, I don’t see how the state’s funding could have had much to do with the budget cuts. Heck, the last time the voters approved a local levy it was below the rate of inflation. Who’s fault was that?

I in no way hold IV Foster to account for this information. He is still learning the ropes and trusting to his cabinet to get the word out. They, meanwhile, are still doing their best to justify the financial decisions of Supt. Foster’s predecessor, Dr. Dixon. That means protect Dr. Dixon from charges that he had anything to do with the budget cuts. (Its the state’s fault!) And while we’re at let’s blame the Baby Boomers for that too…….for not having enough children and grand children! (And I thought they were all about “Free Love!”) And we will evidently get to blame the Baby Boomers for the next five years worth of anticipated budget cuts.

I just thought you ought to know that Boomers screwed up everything.

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