State delays $1.3 million payment to Waubun schools
About $1.3 million will be withheld from the Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School District later this month. For school board members, it was déjà vu all over again.
The district received official word from the Minnesota Department of Education that money to be withheld will be taken Jan. 30 and paid back in May.
The payment delay method has been used in 2009 to help the state balance its budget and with a $6.5 billion deficit, school districts across the state will have to continue lending money to the state.
Superintendent Mitch Anderson said if the district received its highly anticipated federal Impact Aid money, it would help offset state aid payment delays.
"If that comes, that will be a big help," he told school board members Thursday.
The Impact Aid program is geared for schools on Indian lands and military bases. The money goes into the general fund to be used for various programs, salaries and miscellaneous costs.
This year, the district budgeted about $800,000, but the federal dollars don't usually come in at once and are sometimes paid to the district years later.
The district's Business Manager Michelle Heisler said she will work on getting an aid anticipation certificate to help with cash flow if needed.
"More than likely we're gonna see reduction, it's going to get tougher," she said. "It's better to have something in place than to get to that point and be scrambling."
In other business, the board discussed an early start for the 2011-12 school year.
"Throughout our school improvement situation, I think it's something that we could present to the commissioner," Anderson said.
The board worked to get a prior-to-Labor Day start last fall but wasn't able to get approval fast enough. This year, there is more time to approve it in order to add more instruction days prior to testing season.
Anderson said shortening the time between summer and fall may help close the achievement gap.
The board will continue looking into adjusting the school calendar at upcoming meetings.