District 834 forms a new school finance study group

District-ISD-834--Stillwater-Area-Schools-LogoWith declining enrollment and deficit spending, the Stillwater Area School District plans to take a hard look at its financial situation. For the next five months, a financial study group will meet to analyze the district’s budget and create future financial recommendations for the school board.

“School finance is an incredibly complex thing,” said Kristen Hoheisel, director of finance. “The study group will provide a detailed understanding and analysis of the district’s budget.”

The group is comprised of school board members, district staff, teachers and community members.

“The people in the study group all ready have an understanding of business finances or school finance,” Hoheisel said. “This is a group that already has a level of understanding that will be able to know what they are looking at.”

Hoheisel developed the study group to broaden the approach her financial team of accountants and administrators already takes.

“When I first came to Stillwater, I sat on a financial advisory group that was organized by Dr. Ray Queener,” Hoheisel said.

Queener, who served as assistant superintendent before becoming superintendant in the Cambridge-Isanti School District last year, last had a financial advisory group in Stillwater in 2012.

“This group will be different than the groups Dr. Queener formed — the finance advisory group and the budget group — but this is not the first time Stillwater has formed a financial study group,” Hoheisel said.

Some of the goals of the group will be to analyze trends in the district’s expenditures, compare Stillwater’s expenditures to those of comparably sized districts, compare fund balance policies with other district, and make recommendations to the school board about current and future expenditure decisions.

“A goal of the group is to improve the level of public understanding and trust in the district’s financial status and projections,” Hoheisel said. “We also what to provide stability for the district’s education programs.”

The study group will start meeting in August and September, and make recommendations to the school board in December.

Public information meeting on school finance set for Aug. 19

For members of the public interested in knowing more about school finance, Stillwater Area Public Schools’ Karen Hoheisel will lead a special “School Finance 101” session 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19 at Central Services, 1875 South Greeley St., Stillwater. Hoheisel will give an overview of how school districts are funded, as well as share some details specific to Stillwater Area Public Schools. There will also be time for questions and answers.

Contact Alicia Lebens at [email protected]