March 21, 2001

Dear Mr. Welty,

The following are three suggestions for long range planning.

1) In the first plan it would have been helpful if the budgets (based on both the current and revised scenarios) were laid out for a five-year (or longer) period. In this way, one could clearly see how long the pay-back time would be for any construction. Please develop such a table for the next version of the new plan.
2) There needs to be some assumption made about the affect of any changes in Edison enrollment on ISD 709ís enrollment. I am referring to after June, 2003, when the current charter ends. This is only two years away and is certainly an important consideration for a long range plan.
3) A suggestion for saving a little money: Investigate the arrangement that UMD has with regard to janitorial services. They use a lot of student labor (at about $7.00 per hour and minimal benefits) to perform
some janitorial duties. Perhaps as janitors from ISD 709 retire, a student work force could be phased in to some degree. This could also be an opportunity to help out students in need of a part time job.



My Reply to JS

Hi J,

Thanks for the suggestions. I have a few observations based on my experiences.

1. five year budget planning.

Its a good idea but not that easy to pull off. School finance is godawful complicated. We can plan on state aid for the two year biennium but we don't know what it will be until after the legislature finishes up in June. We start planning our budgets for the coming school year five months before we know what the legislature will do.

We can't anticipate union contracts with much precision. Politics intrudes. Elections and new members with different agendas come on board every two years. 

This year is a good example. Five years ago we never would have predicted a Governor Ventura and a proposal to revamp the whole state's school finance. We've been blind-sided by a loss of revenue that is unbelievable even considering our continuing declining enrollments. It could be even worse. While we are projecting a 4.8 million shortfall this year the legislature is considering rolling Compensatory Ed and Deseg funds into the general ed budget. This could double our problem and put us 8 million in debt! 

Long term is like the space beyond the universe - a great unknown

2. Edison enrollment.

Yes, we do need to anticipate their enrollment as well as that of home schoolers, the enrollment of the new parochial middle school being built, and open enrollment students in and out of the district. Currently we have an agreement with Edison that caps their enrollment but allows them to expand each year for three years by 100 students. Their schools will soon fill up and they are reluctant to expand any more. I hope they don't try but we can't predict what they will do beyond the third year.

3. UMD Janitorial services.

This would get us into a very messy fight with our custodial union. It would be a fight that we would probably lose because of our existing contract and would unnecessarily alienate lots of people in Duluth.


Harry Welty