File_  FY 22 Initial Budget Reduction Consideration Proposal (1)_Page_10.jpg

Increased class sizes, elimination of jobs and eliminating busing for some students are some of the actions the Cambridge-Isanti School District may have to take if the Nov. 3 operating referendum does not pass.

During the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting on Sept. 24, Superintendent Nate Rudolph gave the board an overview of some of the measures the district may have to take if district voters do not approve the operating referendum on Nov. 3, since September begins the budgeting process for the next school year.

The referendum would provide an additional $800 per student from 2021-2023 and an additional $1,200 per student from 2024-2030. If the referendum is approved, the $800 per pupil funding would generate an additional $4 million in annual revenue for the district through 2023, with the state subsidizing $103 of the $800 increase. The referendum would then increase to provide $6.1 million in annual revenue beginning in 2024.

The question will appear as one question on the ballot where Cambridge-Isanti School District voters will check a box indicating “yes” or “no.”

The impact on taxpayers would be a $25 per month increase on a $200,000 home from 2021-2023 and a $40 per month increase from 2024-2030.

If the referendum does not pass, Rudolph explained the district will face $1.7 million in cuts to balance the budget for 2022. The district has cut $7.5 million from its operating budget in the past two years, which has led to larger class sizes and the elimination of 90 jobs.

“We know our fifth grade and our second grade in particular are too high,” Rudolph said. “Our high school has 40 in some classes, in some spaces at times, and speaking frankly, part of our challenge of getting back to in-person learning in COVID right now is due to the lack of staffing and lack of being able to spread students out and get that in-person. ... Today we moved models, but even if we again get to the point where we can be in-person, it’s going to be really hard at our high school to be able to do that, and that is a result of our cuts.”

Rudolph explained part of the issue is Cambridge-Isanti Schools receives less revenue per student based on the state average, ranking 304 out of 330 for Minnesota school districts. This leads to a $1,200 funding gap per student, which equals $6.1 million less in district revenue per year than the state average.

When comparing Cambridge-Isanti to its conference schools, it ranks the lowest in revenue per student, ranking below Big Lake, Becker, Monticello, Chisago Lakes, Princeton, North Branch and St. Francis. Rudolph explained since Big Lake, Becker, Monticello and Chisago Lakes district voters voted in favor of a local referendum, those districts receive more state aid.

“Not only do we compete on the courts and on the fields, but also when families decide where they’re going to move to in central Minnesota, they look at schools as one of the No. 1 factors of moving to a community and what their decision is going to be,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph reminded the board the state is facing a $4.7 billion deficit.

“We know that anytime that has been the case, schools have gotten zero and zero in the next several years, so we know that that is very likely,” Rudolph said. “So we just know that we can’t rely on the state as a partner at this point.”

Rudolph said a lot of thought was put into the decision to seek a voter-approved referendum this fall.

“As superintendent, what it comes down to for me is my job is to represent our students, our families and our school district. And we know the answer if we don’t ask the question. We know that we will cut $1.7 million this year, next year and the year after. We know if we don’t do that, we are three years away from statutory operating debt,” Rudloph said. “Statutory operating debt is when the state comes in — it’s the equivalence of bankruptcy for our school district — and they take over, they make the cuts. ... So we lose lots of control in that situation.

“So we know the answer if we don’t ask, we know the route that we’re going. And we know that it is a revenue challenge that we have to overcome. So we have to ask the question, that’s our responsibility.”

Rudolph gave the board an overview of what a “yes” vote means and what a “no” vote means.

A “yes” means:

• Unlocking $800 per student in new funding, including $103 per student in new funding from the state.

• Stabilizing school district finances.

• Strategically reducing class sizes.

• Avoiding the third year of budget cuts.

• Expanding career-tech and apprenticeships.

• Investing in the future of our kids and community.

A “no” vote means:

• Rejecting $103 per student in new state funding.

• Directing the school administration to cut $1.7 million each year.

• Eliminating more jobs.

• Eliminating busing for some students.

• Increasing class sizes further.

• Eliminating some activities and elective classes.

“A reduction of $1.7 million will eliminate positions,” Rudolph said. “We know that in our business, we are the people business. Our dollars are spent on educating, they’re the people in front of us tonight, which is the hardest thing to do. They are the ones that make an impact in the classroom.”

Rudolph said another part of the budget cuts will reduce sports programs and activities. He said the district will take a hard look at middle school programming, including arts and music programming, as well as elective courses at the middle schools and high school.

“Those are hard, hard things,” Rudolph said. “We’ve used the term that ‘we’ve cut through fat, we’ve cut through muscle and we are cutting bone.’ These things that we’re talking about tonight are what my kids go to school for. These are just some of the things that drive our kids, and that is going to be hard.”

Transportation will also be discussed if the referendum does not pass. Rudolph explained right now the district provides transportation for any student who lives more than 1 mile from the school they attend. He said state law says the district isn’t required to provide transportation for students residing within 2 miles of the school they are attending.

Rudolph added fees will also be increased if the referendum doesn’t pass.

“This is a short list of things that we will start looking at in terms if that next layer has to take place,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph said the district will continue to provide as much information as possible to the public prior to the Nov. 3 vote, and detailed information is also available on the district website, www.c-ischools.org.

“We don’t tell people how to vote, but we share our story, and it is important that people are engaged and they understand and they vote with an educated understanding of what it means,” Rudolph said.

Board Member Carri Levitski asked Rudolph to explain to the public why the district is going out for an operating referendum now. Rudolph explained the only time the school district can go to the voters for an operating referendum is in the fall.

“Once we learned last year where we were and went through the cuts, immediately after the cuts we were studying the current situation and how and what and what would go into it, because we were hearing from our community members that we should be exploring and learning more about that,” Rudolph said. “There really wasn’t an option in terms of timing; it either is now or it’s next fall. But if it’s next fall the first time we go, and we don’t put in the work now, we know we’re cutting another $1.7 million and we know that will be bad for kids and our community.”

2021 property tax levy

Director of Finance and Operations Christopher Kampa presented the preliminary property tax levy 2020, payable in 2021.

Kampa explained the preliminary levy needs to be certified to the county by Sept. 30 and needs to be finalized by Dec. 30. He reminded the board that once the preliminary levy is approved, it can only be lowered, not increased, when the final levy is certified in December.

The board approved the preliminary levy at $12.1 million, which is a $1.1 million increase over last year’s levy. Kampa said the levy will lead to a 2% tax increase on a $200,000 residential home.

Kampa explained the levy increase summary:

• Shift from state aid to local levy, $300,000.

• First year of full debt service on new facility, $300,000.

• Limitation adjustments (three-year look back), $300,000.

• Enrollment increase projection (137 students), $100,000.

• Other, $100,000.

Kampa noted projected coronavirus-related expenses and revenue loss is around $4.15 million. The district is receiving around $2.36 million in coronavirus relief funding, leaving a $1.79 million funding gap. Rudolph noted he hopes the district will receive that additional $1.79 million in coronavirus relief funding, but right now the district needs to be aware of that funding gap.

The board also approved a motion to hold the district’s annual Truth in Taxation meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Performing Arts Center at Cambridge-Isanti High School.

Increased class sizes, elimination of jobs and eliminating busing for some students are some of the actions the Cambridge-Isanti School District may have to take if the Nov. 3 operating referendum does not pass.

During the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting on Sept. 24, Superintendent Nate Rudolph gave the board an overview of some of the measures the district may have to take if district voters do not approve the operating referendum on Nov. 3, since September begins the budgeting process for the next school year.

The referendum would provide an additional $800 per student from 2021-2023 and an additional $1,200 per student from 2024-2030. If the referendum is approved, the $800 per pupil funding would generate an additional $4 million in annual revenue for the district through 2023, with the state subsidizing $103 of the $800 increase. The referendum would then increase to provide $6.1 million in annual revenue beginning in 2024.

The question will appear as one question on the ballot where Cambridge-Isanti School District voters will check a box indicating “yes” or “no.”

The impact on taxpayers would be a $25 per month increase on a $200,000 home from 2021-2023 and a $40 per month increase from 2024-2030.

If the referendum does not pass, Rudolph explained the district will face $1.7 million in cuts to balance the budget for 2022. The district has cut $7.5 million from its operating budget in the past two years, which has led to larger class sizes and the elimination of 90 jobs.

“We know our fifth grade and our second grade in particular are too high,” Rudolph said. “Our high school has 40 in some classes, in some spaces at times, and speaking frankly, part of our challenge of getting back to in-person learning in COVID right now is due to the lack of staffing and lack of being able to spread students out and get that in-person. ... Today we moved models, but even if we again get to the point where we can be in-person, it’s going to be really hard at our high school to be able to do that, and that is a result of our cuts.”

Rudolph explained part of the issue is Cambridge-Isanti Schools receives less revenue per student based on the state average, ranking 304 out of 330 for Minnesota school districts. This leads to a $1,200 funding gap per student, which equals $6.1 million less in district revenue per year than the state average.

When comparing Cambridge-Isanti to its conference schools, it ranks the lowest in revenue per student, ranking below Big Lake, Becker, Monticello, Chisago Lakes, Princeton, North Branch and St. Francis. Rudolph explained since Big Lake, Becker, Monticello and Chisago Lakes district voters voted in favor of a local referendum, those districts receive more state aid.

“Not only do we compete on the courts and on the fields, but also when families decide where they’re going to move to in central Minnesota, they look at schools as one of the No. 1 factors of moving to a community and what their decision is going to be,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph reminded the board the state is facing a $4.7 billion deficit.

“We know that anytime that has been the case, schools have gotten zero and zero in the next several years, so we know that that is very likely,” Rudolph said. “So we just know that we can’t rely on the state as a partner at this point.”

Rudolph said a lot of thought was put into the decision to seek a voter-approved referendum this fall.

“As superintendent, what it comes down to for me is my job is to represent our students, our families and our school district. And we know the answer if we don’t ask the question. We know that we will cut $1.7 million this year, next year and the year after. We know if we don’t do that, we are three years away from statutory operating debt,” Rudloph said. “Statutory operating debt is when the state comes in — it’s the equivalence of bankruptcy for our school district — and they take over, they make the cuts. ... So we lose lots of control in that situation.

“So we know the answer if we don’t ask, we know the route that we’re going. And we know that it is a revenue challenge that we have to overcome. So we have to ask the question, that’s our responsibility.”

Rudolph gave the board an overview of what a “yes” vote means and what a “no” vote means.

A “yes” means:

• Unlocking $800 per student in new funding, including $103 per student in new funding from the state.

• Stabilizing school district finances.

• Strategically reducing class sizes.

• Avoiding the third year of budget cuts.

• Expanding career-tech and apprenticeships.

• Investing in the future of our kids and community.

A “no” vote means:

• Rejecting $103 per student in new state funding.

• Directing the school administration to cut $1.7 million each year.

• Eliminating more jobs.

• Eliminating busing for some students.

• Increasing class sizes further.

• Eliminating some activities and elective classes.

“A reduction of $1.7 million will eliminate positions,” Rudolph said. “We know that in our business, we are the people business. Our dollars are spent on educating, they’re the people in front of us tonight, which is the hardest thing to do. They are the ones that make an impact in the classroom.”

Rudolph said another part of the budget cuts will reduce sports programs and activities. He said the district will take a hard look at middle school programming, including arts and music programming, as well as elective courses at the middle schools and high school.

“Those are hard, hard things,” Rudolph said. “We’ve used the term that ‘we’ve cut through fat, we’ve cut through muscle and we are cutting bone.’ These things that we’re talking about tonight are what my kids go to school for. These are just some of the things that drive our kids, and that is going to be hard.”

Transportation will also be discussed if the referendum does not pass. Rudolph explained right now the district provides transportation for any student who lives more than 1 mile from the school they attend. He said state law says the district isn’t required to provide transportation for students residing within 2 miles of the school they are attending.

Rudolph added fees will also be increased if the referendum doesn’t pass.

“This is a short list of things that we will start looking at in terms if that next layer has to take place,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph said the district will continue to provide as much information as possible to the public prior to the Nov. 3 vote, and detailed information is also available on the district website, www.c-ischools.org.

“We don’t tell people how to vote, but we share our story, and it is important that people are engaged and they understand and they vote with an educated understanding of what it means,” Rudolph said.

Board Member Carri Levitski asked Rudolph to explain to the public why the district is going out for an operating referendum now. Rudolph explained the only time the school district can go to the voters for an operating referendum is in the fall.

“Once we learned last year where we were and went through the cuts, immediately after the cuts we were studying the current situation and how and what and what would go into it, because we were hearing from our community members that we should be exploring and learning more about that,” Rudolph said. “There really wasn’t an option in terms of timing; it either is now or it’s next fall. But if it’s next fall the first time we go, and we don’t put in the work now, we know we’re cutting another $1.7 million and we know that will be bad for kids and our community.”

2021 property tax levy

Director of Finance and Operations Christopher Kampa presented the preliminary property tax levy 2020, payable in 2021.

Kampa explained the preliminary levy needs to be certified to the county by Sept. 30 and needs to be finalized by Dec. 30. He reminded the board that once the preliminary levy is approved, it can only be lowered, not increased, when the final levy is certified in December.

The board approved the preliminary levy at $12.1 million, which is a $1.1 million increase over last year’s levy. Kampa said the levy will lead to a 2% tax increase on a $200,000 residential home.

Kampa explained the levy increase summary:

• Shift from state aid to local levy, $300,000.

• First year of full debt service on new facility, $300,000.

• Limitation adjustments (three-year look back), $300,000.

• Enrollment increase projection (137 students), $100,000.

• Other, $100,000.

Kampa noted projected coronavirus-related expenses and revenue loss is around $4.15 million. The district is receiving around $2.36 million in coronavirus relief funding, leaving a $1.79 million funding gap. Rudolph noted he hopes the district will receive that additional $1.79 million in coronavirus relief funding, but right now the district needs to be aware of that funding gap.

The board also approved a motion to hold the district’s annual Truth in Taxation meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Performing Arts Center at Cambridge-Isanti High School.

Load comments