Annual Audit Results – At the October 5th Westonka School Board meeting auditors gave the district an unqualified or “clean” opinion—the best opinion a district can receive. The auditors reported that the district’s revenues and expenses came in below target for 2019-2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Westonka Community Education and Services experienced over $600,000 in revenue loss last year. Emergency Executive Order 20-19 allowed Minnesota Schools to transfer funds due to COVID-19; therefore, Westonka was able to transfer last year’s Community Ed. debt into the district’s Long-Term Facilities Maintenance fund. This resulted in a deficit fund balance in the LTFM reserve of $957,872. The district plans to defer some capital expenditures and building improvements to replenish and restore the reserved fund balance vs. making reductions to staffing and programs.
Coronavirus Relief Funds – The Westonka School District received a Coronavirus Relief Fund grant of approximately $600,000 from the federal government. In addition, the City of Mound and the City of Orono generously allocated $600,000 in CARES Act funds to our schools, which allowed the district to cover $1.2 million in pandemic-related expenses, including personal protective equipment (PPE), added technology, substitute teachers, and more. We are incredibly grateful for these cities’ generosity and partnership!
Current Year Financial Position – As is the case in school districts across the state, Westonka’s enrollment is falling short of 2020-21 projections. We are 39 students shy of where we were at this time last year. This is due to several factors, including families choosing to delay kindergarten and students making other educational choices, including homeschool, online school and PSEO. As modeled over the past years, district enrollment was expected to continue to increase above the 2019-20 school year. This swing in enrollment creates a revenue shortfall that our district will need to address. More information on revised budget and budget goals will be coming by February.
Generous Community Support – Last year the Westonka community approved an operating levy increase that provided an additional $1 million for our schools this year. Without those funds, our district would have been faced with significant budget cuts even before the pandemic. Thank you!
Bond Refinancing – In February 2021, the district will have the opportunity to refinance the 2012A Bonds originating in November 2011 for facilities updates. Westonka holds a very high “Aa2” bond rating. The district worked with our public financing agent, Ehlers, Inc., to call for bids to refinance the debt. On October 5th, the school board approved the award of new bonds at the rate of 0.42%. This will result in an interest savings of approximately $1,023,000 for Westonka taxpayers!
Sound Financial Management – Westonka has long been recognized for sound financial management. The district received the 2020 School Finance Award from the Minnesota Department of Education, which recognizes school organizations for sound financial management policies and procedures. Additionally, Westonka continues to have the lowest total school property taxes of all school districts in Hennepin County.