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Lower enrollment could bring cuts to Winona schools

September 25, 2018

Dahman

WINONA — Falling enrollment could lead to more cuts in the Winona Area Public Schools budget.

The district’s current enrollment of 2,811 is 104 students lower than the 2,915 students used to make budget projections for 2018-19. Superintendent Rich Dahman said that will amount to a drop of more than $460,000 in revenue.

The total average funding per adjusted pupil unit is $9,422.30 with $7,336.20 coming from the state and $2,086.10 coming from the local levy.

“Oct. 1 is typically the deadline (the Minnesota Department of Education) uses for funding purposes.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to save in our budgeting for this year and make additional cuts for the coming year,” Dahman said.

A big part of that enrollment drop, which is 64 students fewer than at the end of the 2017-18 school year, includes 37 students who had gone to Rollingstone Elementary last year but have since moved to charter schools, private schools or other school districts this year, Dahman said.

Another seven students from Madison Elementary exited the district, he added.

The district could earn a little extra cash if it sells either Madison or Central elementary schools, Dahman said. During a closed session at Thursday’s meeting, the school board heard of three offers made for Madison and five offers made for Central.

“We’re hoping we can continue to get some higher offers,” Dahman said, adding that proceeds from the school sales can only be used for capital projects and could not be used directly in the operating budget.

One of the offers on Central came from the city of Winona, Dahman said. City Administrator Steve Sarvi talked about potential uses for the site, but said the city would likely conduct a re-use study if it bought the building.

The only banned use the building would be as a kindergarten through 12th-grade school, which has been a contingency of the sales, Dahman said.

Finally, the board heard the district’s MCA testing results. The scores were lower than state average in all categories – math (4.8 points lower), reading (7 points) and science (8.9 points). The scores were typical for WAPS results over the past five years, according to data presented at the meeting.

It is important for the district to align its curriculum with state standards and better implement intervention for students needing help, Dahman said. Part of that would include teachers working within their peer groups to improve student achievement in their grades and disciplines.

“It’s something we have to continue to get better at,” he said “We haven’t focused on updating our curriculum as we should.”

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