District 622 School Board adopts 2015-2016 budget

Superintendent Patty Phillips
Superintendent Patty Phillips

Superintendent Phillips says farewell

A final budget to fund a new school year was adopted by the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School Board last week. The board unanimously approved the district’s 2015-2016 revenue and expenditures budget at its Tuesday, June 23, meeting.

The $180,484,235 budget is about $3.7 million more than expected expenditures for next school year, bringing the district’s fund balance up to over $4 million.

While business services director Randy Anderson noted that number is below the board’s policy of having a 5 percent fund balance in the district’s coffers, it was good considering the district’s overall financial woes. Some reserves are needed for cash flow purposes for such things as meeting payroll, he said.

The passing of the budget comes on the heels of the board’s decision to cut $8 million from District 622’s general fund budget in February. That amount included staffing cuts throughout the district of $5.7 million. Board members were left with little choice after being presented with a 2013-2014 audit that showed revenues exceeding expenditures by the same amount.

District leaders decided to forgo budget reductions the previous two years after several years of considerable budget cuts.

“I think we’ve been collaborative, and I think we have a budget with limited impact to students and classrooms,” he told the board.

The nearly $180.5 million budget approved for the 2015-2016 school year includes nine funds, with the general fund being the largest. The general fund budget is used to account for revenues and expenditures relating to the general operation of the school district.

Next year’s $127,320,913 general fund represents a $3 million increase in spending over last year’s, but also exceeds expected general fund expenditures by about the same amount - adding about $3.2 million to the district’s reserves.

Anderson said roughly $100 million, or about 82 percent, of the general fund expenditures next year go toward paying employee salaries and benefits.

The other eight funds that make up District 622’s 2015-2016 budget include:

• Food service fund of $6.1 million

• Community education fund of $8.3 million

• Building construction fund of $5.2 million

• Debt service fund of $12.7 million

• Trust and agency fund of $1.3 million

• Self-insured health fund of $15.7

• Other post-employment benefits (OPEB) trust fund of $1.1 million

• OPEB debt service fund of $2.7 million

‘Until we meet again’

June 23 marked the final board meeting for 10-year superintendent Patty Phillips, who retired June 30. A photo slide show of Phillips was played in the boardroom at the beginning of the meeting.

Board member Amy Coborn presented her with a plaque and read a resolution from local state legislators commending her for 10 years of leadership in the district.

Coborn read from the resolution: “Patty’s inspirational vision, vast knowledge, strong communication, and unwavering focus on what is in the best interest of all students has produced a lasting legacy which will continue to serve our district well into the future.”

Some of the district’s many accomplishments during the popular superintendent’s tenure were: implementing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) specialists at every elementary school; being one of the first districts in the state to offer free, all-day, every-day kindergarten, as well as one of the first to offer preschool programs for 4-year-olds in three buildings; implementing the strategic plan and success system; providing numerous staff development opportunities; a renewed tax levy in 2011; and a No. 3 state ranking for U of M credits earned through the College in the Schools Program for the 2013-2014 school year.

Phillips was also named 2010 Minnesota Superintendent of the Year, selected to serve as a mentor to provide professional assistance to other district leaders, was a 2006 member of the commissioner of education’s first educational delegation to China, served as one of the state’s 10 delegates to the Mid-American Association of School Superintendents, and was elected to serve a three-year term on the American Association of School Administrators governing board.

“Thank you so much. What you said here was lovely, but certainly I’m not responsible for all that. It was a collaborative effort. ... That’s what I love about this district,” she told the board.

Phillips thanked board members, her cabinet and the entire District 622 staff. She also thanked the 37 employees retiring at the end of the year for their service, and read each of their names aloud. She said it was “the heart” of 622 that attracted her to the district in the first place.

She said she doesn’t like to say goodbye, but instead prefers a phrase her Croatian grandparents would say to her, “Do vidjenja,” or “Until we meet again.”

New superintendent Christine Osorio took the helm Wednesday, July 1.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.

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