Good news for school district coffers

The state of Minnesota is almost square with its school districts, Gov. Mark Dayton and other state officials reported on Monday.

By the end of Fiscal Year 2013, the state has repaid nearly $2.6 billion of the $2.8 billion the state borrowed from school districts to balance the state’s budget. The state had shifted funding it was supposed to pay to the k-12 school districts in previous budget deals in order to reduce budget deficits. School districts have muddled through by tightening their own budgets, cutting programs and borrowing money to meet cash flow needs.

At the end of the last fiscal year, the state repaid an additional $636 million from its budget surplus. With another good budget year, the stat should be able to pay back all it owes to districts.

This is not a windfall for school districts, however. This is money they were supposed to received, money they had in their budgets that didn’t show up.

The state can do school districts a big favor in the future by giving school districts revenue projections that are reliable and dependable, so they can set their budgets and plan their programs with confidence, without worrying if the state is going to withhold funding at a later date.

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