Prior Lake High School is pictured.

The Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools Board of Education approved a $2 million budget adjustment last week to help mitigate the district’s $4 million budget deficit.

“We engaged in this budget adjustment process to help ensure financial stability and over the next two years solve a $4 million budget deficit,” Superintendent Teri Staloch said at the April 12 board meeting.

Earlier this year, the board provided direction for a $2 million budget adjustment. The adjustment process began in February and included input from district staff. The approved plan shores up $2 million using a combination of budget reductions and increased revenues.

Short-term solutions

The district will make use of special funding revenue and re-allocate other funds to produce short-term solutions for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

“This is happening in districts all over the state,” Board Member Michael Nelson said. “Not only was COVID an impact, but a lot of the funds that are coming in are one-time allocations, these aren’t long-term budget sustaining allocations and they’re specific earmarked. So while it’s tempting to say the government just threw a lot of money at public education, it’s very specific and very limited.”

One of the most significant budgetary solutions is the allocation of $683,546 in ESSER II funds (a one-time federal funding source). Unused district staff development funds will be re-allocated to support portions of staff salaries and benefits, presenting a $100,000 savings.

The district will use $165,000 of its $400,000 achievement and integration revenue (collected through additional state aid and a smaller levy component), to support translation services for students and families. Some of these funds will also be used to support a new equity leadership position.

Staff reductions

Administrative reductions will account for $410,611 in budget savings. Reductions include eliminating the assistant superintendent position and a one-year hold on hiring an activities director. Assistant Principle Joe Kuboushek will assume the activities director role in the meantime.

“This will not be a reduction in activities and athletics, but a reduction in the high school administrative team,” Staloch said.

Seven staff positions will also be eliminated — six of which are contract non-renewals that present a $637,500 savings. The six non-renewals are part district “rightsizing” adjustments that reflect enrollment decline, Human Resources Director Jim Quiram said.

In total, the adjustments allow the district to maintain a minimum fund balance of 8.5%, which is within the board’s 8-12% fund balance policy.