Board wrestles with budget woes, referendumIn what could only be described as a tense session, the Cloquet School Board found out at the Feb. 22 regular meeting that they will soon face some tough budget decisions.
By: Brittany Berrens, Pine Journal
In what could only be described as a tense session, the Cloquet School Board found out at the Feb. 22 regular meeting that they will soon face some tough budget decisions.
In the coming weeks, the board must decide whether to renew a referendum that brings in approximately $250,000 a year for the district.
The referendum renewal would have to be put up for vote by the public in November. If the referendum does not get renewed, the district could no longer collect that portion of the tax levy.
“It’s a tough uphill battle,” said Superintendent Ken Scarbrough.
Board members were reluctant to start any serious discussion about the referendum until Business Manager Kim Josephson could produce more information about exactly how much landowners would have to pay.
To add to the stress in the room, board members also discussed the questionable budget reforms from Governor Tim Pawlenty.
“Legislatively, we’re in a mess right now because the Governor is coming out with something that’s probably not realistic, and the Senate and Legislature are going to have to wrestle with that,” said Scarbrough.
Josephson did not have a revised budget ready for Monday night’s meeting, but it is likely that after a state budget is passed, a new district budget will have to be worked out.
Board member Jim Crowley said he could feel the financial pressure.
“We’re really going to be hurting and we need to get that out,” he said. “We’re working very hard to save money for the district to keep the progress coming along. In a time when we are hearing about how well our students are doing, it’ll be tough to make these decisions.”
Scarbrough said there is a lot of uncertainty with how stimulus and stabilization revenue is coming in, and it will likely be mid-March or later before the district will receive the funding information needed to plan for the next school year.