Spring Lake Park Schools are in a strong financial position. Our school board and administrative team have focused on using the financial resources provided by our community to maximize impact for students and minimize impact for taxpayers.
This year, while other districts ask for additional funding, we are in a position to renew existing operating and capital projects levies. We are not requesting any new or additional school funding from residents.
Compared to other metro school districts, our voter-approved funding from district residents is among the lowest.
- Of 40 metro districts, 38 have approved higher funding per student through their voter-approved levies than our district.
- Our combined levies are below the metro average by $1,132per student.
With our recent growth and sound fiscal management, we are in a solid financial position now and into the near-term future and do not need to ask for additional resources.
The operating levy, or Levy for Learning, and the capital projects levy, both fund essential needs. The levy for learning funds teachers and helps keep class sizes small. The capital projects levy funds technology for classrooms, operations and safety and security.
These levies are separate from bond dollars approved in 2016. We’ve put bond funds to good use in our facilities:
- Opened Centerview Elementary School last year.
- Completing renovations at each of our schools to provide necessary, additional space, flexibility and engaging learning environments.
In all of our efforts, we look to maximize the investment. A great example is our partnership with National Sports Center and creatively sharing fields and facilities.
The Spring Lake Park School Board and administration have taken frequent action to reduce property taxes contributed by district residents. They have refinanced bonds five times over the past nine years that has reduced taxes for local residents by more than $13 million.
Bond refinancing is similar to refinancing a home mortgage. It creates tax savings for district taxpayers but does not result in any type of savings for the school district.
For years, inflation has grown while state and federal school funding has remained the same. If school funding had kept pace with inflation, we would have received more than $3.9 million in additional funding during the last school year alone. This funding gap is projected to grow.
Spring Lake Park Schools operates with a structurally balanced annual budget and focuses on making decisions that position the district for long-term fiscal health. While the gap between inflation and funding has grown, our district has maximized its use of resources while maintaining a balanced budget and appropriate fund balance.
Ours is one of the only districts in the metro area that has not had to increase class sizes or reduce programs in recent years. In fact, we have been able to lower class sizes in recent years. Right now, we are positioned to manage funding challenges with our existing resources — including levy resources — without having to make any reductions.
The district has been recognized for sound financial management. Spring Lake Park Schools, for 13 consecutive years, has received the Certificate for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Association of School Business Officials International. Less than 10 percent of districts in the state receive this award.
In fall 2018, the district's financial rating assigned by Moody’s Investor Service was upgraded to an Aa2 rating from the previous Aa3 rating.
- There are 147 school districts in Minnesota that use Moody’s to determine their bond rating. Of those districts, only six districts have a higher rating than Spring Lake Park Schools.
- The Moody’s bond rating is based on criteria they use to determine overall financial health of a district based on past, current and expected future financial results.
The increase in the district’s rating reflects solid fiscal management and Moody’s confidence in the district’s financial management practices.
If you want to learn more about the basics of school funding in Minnesota, take a look at this helpful video by the Minnesota Department of Education: