A board member and two members of the business services team receive plaque award for school financials

For 15 years running, Spring Lake Park Schools has received the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International’s Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting award.

The award was given to the Spring Lake Park Schools for having met or exceeded high standards for financial reporting and accountability for fiscal year 2020. Less than 10 percent of districts in Minnesota receive this award, which was announced and presented at the September 14 school board meeting.

“Receiving this award has become a continuing symbol, a tradition, of excellence now after 15 years,” says Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg. “It continues to be a recognition of our district’s commitment to solid financial stewardship, and I hope it instills pride and confidence in how we manage our financial resources.”

ASBO International is a professional organization of more than 5,000 members. The organization provides programs and services to promote the highest standards of school business management practices, professional growth and use of education resources.

Strong financial stewardship 

The ASBO award highlights the district’s solid financial condition for the past several years. Even with the disruptions and demands of the pandemic, the district’s financial position continues to be strong.

While many other metro-area school districts have had to make painful budget cuts, Spring Lake Park Schools has been able to manage effectively using existing resources. The district has operated a balanced budget for the last eight years.

During this time, the district has been able to lower class sizes and has some of the lowest class sizes in the metro area. The financial position has also been helpful for attracting and retaining teachers and staff.

“We receive tremendous support from our community, and we do not take that support for granted. We consistently prioritize the effective, purposeful use of financial resources that our district’s residents supported,” says Jeff.

Of 44 metro districts, 43 have approved higher funding per student through their voter-approved levies than Spring Lake Park Schools. We also have the lowest voter-approved levy amounts of our neighboring districts.

Through strong financial management, the district has even provided relief to taxpayers over the last ten years. In that time, the school board has approved bond refinancing that lowered the school portion of property taxes for district residents. The total property tax savings from refinancing is about $120 per year for the owners of a $250,000 home, a total savings for district taxpayers of more than $13 million.

The district’s rigorous financial management practices are now being applied to state and federal COVID relief funding. Those one-time dollars are being used to support near-term critical needs coming out of the pandemic and to explore innovations for the future.

Right now, the district is positioned to manage funding challenges with our existing resources — including levy resources — without having to make any reductions.

“At this time, we have no immediate plans to ask taxpayers for additional resources,” says Jeff. “Community support has been critical to the school district’s overall financial health and when and if we need to return to our community to ask for additional support we do so through purposeful planning and careful consideration. We know every dollar matters, especially when we are talking about our children.”

Pictured in the photo: Amy Hennen, board chair, Amy Schultz, director of business services, and Chris McGee, finance manager, hold the latest award from ASBO recognizing Spring Lake Park Schools’ excellence in financial reporting.