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FAQ: Budget
1. Why do we need a referendum?
2. What would the referendum fund?
3. Why are you spending money on technology?
4. If the referendum doesn’t pass, what type of budget cuts will need to be made?
5. If the referendum passes, what happens next?
6. Why is the district spending $450,000 on a concession stand at Century? (Added 6.3.15)
7. Why doesn’t the district seek sponsorships or advertising to cover funding needs? (Added 6.4.15)
8. What are the current tax rates for the City of Rochester? (Added 6.23.15)
9. The food service fund has a large balance - why can’t we use that money to fund teachers? (Added 6.25.15)
10. How does RPS calculate revenue projections? (Added 6.25.15)
11. Does having a 45/15 schedule save money for the district? (Added 6.25.15)
12. Why will we see a deficit if we raise more money? (Added 6.25.15)
13. Why is RPS so heavy in administration? (Added 6.25.15)
14. If the state isn’t funding every school district equally, then why are the citizens, whose income is being used in the funding formula, being asked to come up with more money? (Added 6.26.15)
15. Why do the expenditures change from year to year in the district? (Added 7.06.15)
16. What is the Implicit Price Deflator (IPD)? Why is it relevant? (Added 7.08.15)
17. What are the salary and benefits (medical and dental, and retirement) for appropriate categories of administrator and teacher levels? (Added 7.27.15)
18. How much will the election cost the district? (Added 8.7.15)
19. How much has the district paid Springsted Inc? (Added 8.7.15)

20. I heard that cabinet members received a 13% raise during their last contract? (Added 10.5.15)
21. I heard that RPS received $390 per pupil as a result of the 2015 legislative session? (Added 10.5.15)
22. Why is RPS asking for a referendum that increases revenue by $9.6 million when the deficit for the 2016-2017 school year is only $3.8 million? (Added 10.5.15)
23. How much do we spend per student in total? (Added 10.5.15)
24. Why does the district need more money to do the same with what we have always done? (Added 10.5.15)
25. I heard the district spends $2 million annual on technology and has already spent $10 million on technology? (Added 10.7.15)
26. I am not following your funding request. Currently voters have $309.79 approved levy. The state allows up to a maximum $424 levy without voter approval for a total of $733.79 per student. You are asking voters to approve an $836.82 voter approved levy. On top of that, the schools would continue to ask for the maximum local option revenue of $424 for a total of $1,260.82 per student. This equals an increase from $733.79 total levy per student to $1,260.82 per student or about 72%. What am I missing here? (Added 10.7.15)
27. What is the district wide budget for sports and why are there no proposed cuts to sports programs if the referendum does not pass? What is the districts revenue from activities and athletics? (Added 10.12.15)
28. I took a look at the 'Operating Referendum - Understanding the Numbers' page. If the referendum passes, local optional revenue will now be added because it is after 2013 and the District will continue to not 'opt-out' of local optional revenue. By statue you couldn't add it to the 2006 referendum amount, Correct? (Added 10.12.15)
29. I understand 57% of the local optional revenue comes from local property taxpayers while the other 43% is from state aid. Couldn't one assume then that the 57% ($241.68) is an additional tax increase for local property owners in additional to the per pupil funding on the ballot ($836.82)? (Added 10.12.15)
30. Why is the amount on the tax letter I received from the district different than the amount of impact on the Addendum A? (Added 10.15.15)
31. I heard the district purchased a garbage truck but split the funding sources into parts so as not to need board approval for the full expense. Is this true? (Added 10.19.15)
32. Is the school district tapping into Destination Medical Center funds? (Added 10.22.15)
33. I heard the District spends $4 million annually on consultants? Is this true? (Added 10.23.15)
34. How does this impact me as a agricultural property owner or a cabin owner within your school district? (Added 10.26.15)
35. I’m concerned that you are seeking a referendum but yet still asking for fees – such as fees for field trips and early Kindergarten entrance. (Added 10.27.15)
36. Why is the district spending money purchasing vans? (Added 10.27.15)
37. How much has the district spent down in fund balance? (Added 10.27.15)
38. Is the tax increase from the school board approved levy brand NEW in 2016 – meaning property owners have never paid this tax amount before? Is it an actual first-time increase or it is a tax that was paid in 2015 and it will be continued in 2016? (Added 11.2.15)



Q: Why do we need a referendum?
A:
The expenditures for RPS exceed the revenue. For the past several school years RPS has been spending down the fund balance in order to maintain quality educational programming for all students. The fund balance is projected to reach 6% (the minimum amount as established by board policy). The legislature’s formula allowance has increased by 13.5% over a 10 year period. During that same 10 year period the Consumer Price Index increased 27.1%. A further problem arises because the legislature hasn’t appropriated enough funds to fully fund the formulas that have been established. One example of this is in the area of transportation for students who qualify for specialized transportation per their Individualized Education Plan. While the formula establishes 100% reimbursement, the state doesn’t fully fund the formula, therefore RPS has to cover the difference.

When comparing the level of operating referendum currently in place for Rochester, the district generates approximately $527 per pupil less than the state average. This amounts to a difference of over $9,400,000 per year.


Q: What would the referendum fund?
A:
The referendum would fund the course offerings at CTECH as well as maintain current course offerings in our middle schools and high schools. The referendum would also enable RPS to maintain the class sizes in our elementary grades. The referendum would ensure that the our schools receive the necessary materials and supplies to enhance the teaching and learning in our classrooms.

Q: Why are you spending money on technology?
A:
The District lacks a funding source to continue adding additional one to one devices (iPads) as part of the Digital Learning Transformation. Recently, the District made an investment of $1.42 million, over four years, for 3,500 iPads, cases, and charging carts. This funding source is dedicated specifically to capital purchases, and not teacher or other staff salaries. The District has spent years researching digital learning/personalized learning and know that student achievement, engagement, efficiencies, and college and career readiness are all improved through the use of technology. Currently, the district has been operating one to one in six of our schools K-12 since January 26, 2015. The operating referendum that the District is seeking is could be used for technology. However, the District and School Board’s priority is to secure funding for general operations, opposed to technology at this time.

Q: If the referendum doesn’t pass, what type of budget cuts will need to be made?
A:
The district will need to reduce the general fund budget by $3.8 million in the '16-'17 school year and approximately $4 million every year after. This would result in the reduction of approximately 220 positions within RPS through the '19-'20 school year. These cuts in positions would most likely include teachers, paraprofessionals, school and district administrators, facilities and maintenance workers, as well as other positions. These reductions in staff positions would likely result in reductions of course offerings in the middle and high schools as well as the strong possibility of increases in class size at the elementary level. The need for budget reductions would extend into the school years beyond the ’19-’20 school year. 



Q: If the referendum passes, what happens next?
A:
Through the '19-'20 school year budget cuts will be avoided, resulting in same or similar programming remaining in place in all of our sites. 

Q: Why is the district spending $450,000 on a concession stand at Century? (Added 6.3.15)
A:
On July 16, 2013, Rochester Public Schools received a violation notice for lack of permitting for additions to the Century Concession stand that were added after the original permit was issued in June of 2004. The Century High School plumbing and sewer infrastructure needs to be re-built in order to be in compliance with plumbing and sewer code. Century High School does not have permanent restroom facilities in its outdoor stadium. After a robust process of soliciting and reviewing bids, it was recommended and approved by the Rochester School Board that all bids would be rejected. This will give RPS the opportunity to further explore options regarding the plumbing and sewer infrastructure, the existing stadium buildings, and options for permanent restrooms. In the future the stadium work is anticipated to be funded out of the proceeds from the sale of Gage East as well as a portion out of the activities and athletics budget.

Q: Why doesn’t the district seek sponsorships or advertising to cover funding needs? (Added 6.4.15)
A:
We have reached out to St. Francis the school district, which was referenced in a Time Magazine article in respect to seeking advertising for recouping district expenses. St. Francis is no longer utilizing the advertising/sponsorship that was featured in the article. During the first year of the advertising campaign the district generated $55,000 in revenue in the second year $15,000 in revenue was generated.

RPS currently has a policy on advertising and fundraising. We seek out advertisers for advertisements in our stadiums, on our score boards, etc. While advertising revenue currently brings in some revenue to the district, even with significant expansion of advertising contracts, RPS does not foresee being able to rely on advertising revenue to make up for budget shortfalls. RPS is cautious to rely on advertising as a consistent sustainable source for ongoing revenue of the level that is needed
beginning with the '16-'17 school year. In order for the district to embark upon significant and sustainable revenue sources generated through advertising, the district would need to hire staff to solicit and onboard advertisers. While the district continues to work to increase revenue generated by advertising there are not staff positions dedicated to these efforts.


Q: What are the current tax rates for the City of Rochester? (Added 6.23.15)
A:
See chart below.



Q: The food service fund has a large balance - why can’t we use that money to fund teachers? (Added 6.25.15)
A:
There are many sources of revenue that come into the district. Within each area of revenue there are specific expenditures that are allowed. Food service funds can not be used to purchase teaching staff as that revenue source does not allow for teacher salary expenditures.

Q: How does RPS calculate revenue projections? (Added 6.25.15)
A:
RPS utilizes the projected enrollment numbers and forecasts the revenue using the current funding formulas. Currently the funding formulas for the ’15-’16 and ’16-’17 school year are legislatively set. For the projections beyond the ’16-’17 school year RPS forecasts on a 1% formula enhancement. Any additional funding enhancements will be factored in to an updated forecast.

RPS forecasts its expenditures to have a 3% increase per year.


Q: Does having a 45/15 schedule save money for the district? (Added 6.25.15)
A:
RPS currently has one site, Longfellow Elementary, that operates on a 45/15 schedule. At this time the district has not explored the costs if we were to go district wide to a 45/15 schedule. If there were a cost savings, RPS would not be ready to be 45/15 across the entire district for several years. Further exploration of 45/15 as well as soliciting feedback from a variety of stakeholders would need to occur which takes a longer period of time than compared to the timeframe of needing significant cost savings beginning with the ’16-’17 school year and beyond.

Q: Why will we see a deficit if we raise more money? (Added 6.25.15)
A:
If we bring RPS to the state average which is $836.32/pupil an increase of $527.07/pupil, RPS does not anticipate having a budget shortfall through the ’19-’20 school year.

The increases in state aid have not kept pace with the inflation in RPS, as well as districts statewide. RPS has been using the fund balance over the past several years to avoid substantial budget cuts in our classrooms and schools. RPS has made budget cuts at the district level for the past several years. RPS is projected to reach a fund balance of 6% at the end of the ’15-’16 school year. Board policy dictates that the fund balance may not go below 6%.

Over a 10 year period RPS has received a 13.5% increase through the funding formula at the state level. The CPI (Consumer Price Index) for this same period was 27.1%.

There are some instances in which the formula established is not fully funded. For example, if RPS were to receive all of the money as prescribed by the funding formulas, an additional $2,287,000 would have been received as revenue for the 2013-2014 school year.

Q: Why is RPS so heavy in administration? (Added 6.25.15)
A: 
RPS spends $471 per student out of a total per student allocation of $11,098 on administration costs. The state average of per student spending on administration costs is $704 per student. RPS is at 4.11% of operating expenses spent on administration, the state average is 5.68%.

Q: If the state isn’t funding every school district equally, then why are the citizens, whose income is being used in the funding formula, being asked to come up with more money? (Added 6.26.15)
A: 
RPS receives revenue on a per pupil basis from state aids and credits, property taxes, federal aids and other sources. State aids and credits account for 81.2% of the district general fund revenue ($150,858,242). Property taxes account for 12.8% of the district general fund revenue ($23,781,619). The property tax amount is the piece that is at the local level. The local levy amount for RPS is currently at $309.79/pupil (the state average is $836.82/pupil). The local levy amount impacts the property tax rates which is where the revenue at the local level is determined for RPS.

Q: Why do the expenditures change from year to year in the district? (Added 7.06.15)
A: There are a variety of factors that come in to play regarding the expenditures in the budget from year to year. Some of the factors impacting the expenditures are listed below:

- debt payments that occur (for example in 2013 the district made a $9 million repayment of general bonds (bonds are one of the sources used for construction and health and safety facility projects)
- increase in the number of students results in increase in staffing costs
- the level of servicing required for students receiving specialized instruction and supports
- the number of employees that opt in to health insurance benefits on a single or family coverage level

Q: What is the Implicit Price Deflator (IPD)? Why is it relevant? (Added 7.08.15)
A: 
The Implicit Price Deflator (IPD) is one tool to measure inflation. There are three different IPDs. The state and local government IPD is used to measure costs associated with governmental entities such as K-12 education. The IPD illustrates at a state and national level the average costs for delivering government services.

This is relevant because it is another way to measure inflation with particular focus in government sector. This provides the increases in cost for K-12 education.

Q: What are the salary and benefits (medical and dental, and retirement) for appropriate categories of administrator and teacher levels? (Added 7.27.15)
A:
 For teachers who are benefit eligible for health insurance, the district pays up to a maximum amount of $756/month of the single premium and up to $1286.46/month of the family premium. The employee pays the remainder of the balance. For all other employees who are benefit eligible for health insurance the district pays up to a maximum amount of $717/month of the single premium and up to $1225.20/month of the family premium. The employee pays the remainder of the balance. The district pays the full premium for dental which is $36.00/month for single coverage and $89/month for family coverage. This is the same across all employees who are benefit eligible. All eligible employees receive an 7.5% district match for either TRA or PERA (retirement plans).

The following employee groups are eligible to receive a match for a 403B account.
Teachers get a $500 per year match, Executive Directors get $2500 per year, principals get $2725
Administrators get $1500 per year if hired prior to 7/1/2013; those hired after get $2000 per year
Maintenance gets $250 per year if hired prior to 7/1/2013; those hired after get $500
Off Schedule get a $500 match if hired after 7/1/2013
Clerical get $250 per year if hired prior to 7/1/2013; those hired after get $500
SNS (Food Service) get $150 per year.

Q: How much will the election cost the district? (Added 8.7.15)
A: 
The cost for the election will be approximately $160,000. The cost accounts for mailing, election judges, ballots, polling location fees, delivery of equipment and the contracted services of the district's financial advisor, Springsted Inc.

Q: How much has the district paid Springsted Inc? (Added 8.7.15)
A: 
The district's financial advisor Springsted Inc. is providing guidance with respect to the referendum. The cost will be approximately $40,000.

Q: I heard that cabinet members received a 13% raise during their last contract? (Added 10.5.15)
A: 
The cabinet salaries had not been raised since 2006. There were reductions to cabinet salaries that had occurred from the timeframe of 2006-2014. The cabinet salary total increase was 13.35% since 2006. This is reflective of cumulative increases that are lower than nearly every other employee group in the district.

Q: I heard that RPS received $390 per pupil as a result of the 2015 legislative session? (Added 10.5.15)
A: 
This is incorrect. The state funding formula enhancement for the 2015-2016 school year is $117 per pupil (went from $5,831 per pupil to $5,948) and for the 2016-2017 school year is $119 per pupil (goes from $5,948 per pupil to $6,067).


Q: Why is RPS asking for a referendum that increases revenue by $9.6 million when the deficit for the 2016-2017 school year is only $3.8 million? (Added 10.5.15)
A: 
By bringing RPS to state average on local levy ($836/student) the district will be able to not have budget cuts through the '19-'20 school year. Due to the state funding formula enhancements not keeping pace with inflationary rates in our district (not unique to RPS), with the same level of programming in our district, RPS will enter into a situation in '19-'20 school year that expenditures will be higher than revenue. During the '16-'17, '17-'18, and '18-'19 school years, the fund balance will be built up beyond 6%. The additional amount above the fund balance will then be utilized during the '19-'20 school year to ensure budget cuts are not made. At the end of the '19-'20 school year, the fund balance will be approximately $500,000 above the 6% minimum.

*These assumptions are built on a formula enhancement from the state of 2% in '16-'17 and 1% in '17-'18, '18-'19, and '19-'20.


Q: How much do we spend per student in total? (Added 10.5.15)
A: 
RPS spends $11,098 per student.


Q: Why does the district need more money to do the same with what we have always done? (Added 10.5.15)
A: 
In order to sustain the level of quality programming that we have in our district the administration and the school board agreed to do a planned spend down of the budget reserve. This planned spend down began with the 2013-2014 school year. A planned spend down means the District was providing strategic supports to the classroom, rather than letting unused funds sit in a general fund reserve. This was strategic and supportive. RPS will reach a budget reserve of 6% at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. This is the minimum amount that can be in the budget reserve as set forth by board policy. After 2015-2016 school year RPS will no longer be able to utilize the budget reserve to offset expenditures.

Since 2001 RPS has made over $28 million in budget cuts. The last four years RPS has worked to keep the cuts away from the classrooms and programming. At this point it is highly likely that continued budget cuts will affect classroom programming and class sizes.

The level of state funding hasn't kept up with the cost of living and the cost of inflation in our district as well as the districts throughout the state. With funding from the state lagging (accounts for 80% of the general fund budget) RPS has to seek other revenue. The revenue available to districts is through local levy. The referendum will allow us to avoid budget cuts at a minimum through the '19-'20 school year.


Q: I heard the district spends $2 million annual on technology and has already spent $10 million on technology? (Added 10.7.15)
A: 
This is untrue. The district has launched phase one of the digital learning transformation (1:1 iPads in 7 schools). This is an investment of $1.42 million, spread across four years. the annual general fund technology spending in 2014-2015 was $686,777. CLICK HERE to watch a video about our Digital Learning Transformation.


Q: I am not following your funding request. Currently voters have $309.79 approved levy. The state allows up to a maximum $424 levy without voter approval for a total of $733.79 per student. You are asking voters to approve an $836.82 voter approved levy. On top of that, the schools would continue to ask for the maximum local option revenue of $424 for a total of $1,260.82 per student. This equals an increase from $733.79 total levy per student to $1,260.82 per student or about 72%. What am I missing here? (Added 10.7.15)
A: 
~Local Optional Revenue is available to all Districts at $424 per student.
~School Boards have the option to add $300 of Referendum Revenue per student on top for a total of $724 per student - guaranteed.
~By Statute, referendums approved by votes prior to 2013 have to be reduced against the $424 Local Optional Revenue plus any amounts converted by the Board ($144.59 for Rochester.) The $724 guarantee was not meant to stack on top of referendums but to bring all Districts up to at least $724.
~Rochester's 2006 referendum is currently $568.59 per student, has been growing with inflation, and expires in 2016-2017.
~Since the $424 of Local Options has to be reduced from the 2006 referendum ($568.59-$424=$144.59), the School Board converted the balance of $144.59 to make it last until 2019-2020 instead of letting it expire at the end of 2016-2017.
~Then the School Board increased Referendum Revenue by $155.41 to equal the $724 guaranteed by Statute.
~The Local Optional Revenue of $424 is permanently guaranteed and the $300 additional lasts until 2019-2020. Neither of these amounts grow with inflation.
~The School Board can rescind the $144.59 of conversion and put it back to "voter approved referendum."
~The voters then can rescind the $568.59 per student and add an amount that will stack on top of the $424 Local Optional Revenue.
~If the voters don't pass an amount that brings the District to at least $724, the School Board can at least have this amount through the guaranteed minimum.
~If the voters pass the referendum, the administration is recommending to the School Board can under-levy and rescind the $155.41 to give way to the voter's amount and grow with inflation. The Board does not want to do this rescission piece until after the election or they risk shorting the District's general fund by approximately $2.8 million in 2016-2017.


Q: What is the district wide budget for sports and why are there no proposed cuts to sports programs if the referendum does not pass? What is the districts revenue from activities and athletics? (Added 10.12.15)
A: 
The budget for activities and athletics is $3,234,334 (a portion of this budget is from the fees collected for participation). If the district is faced with making budget cuts all areas of RPS will be evaluated for reductions. This would include activities and athletics.
For the 2015-2016, we have budgeted about $920,000 in activities and athletics revenue. This is the amount the students pay to play plus the amounts we raise in ticket sales/season passes.


Q: I took a look at the 'Operating Referendum - Understanding the Numbers' page. If the referendum passes, local optional revenue will now be added because it is after 2013 and the District will continue to not 'opt-out' of local optional revenue. By statue you couldn't add it to the 2006 referendum amount, Correct? (Added 10.12.15)
A: 
The district has not opted out of local optional revenue in the past. The amount that we have shared includes the local optional revenue. So the increase that we referenced is the true increase considering successful passage of the referendum as well as local optional revenue.


Q: I understand 57% of the local optional revenue comes from local property taxpayers while the other 43% is from state aid. Couldn't one assume then that the 57% ($241.68) is an additional tax increase for local property owners in additional to the per pupil funding on the ballot ($836.82)? (Added 10.12.15)
A: 
The total increase is including the local optional revenue. The increase of $15.28/month on a $200,000 home includes referendum and local optional revenue, a total of $183.36 annually.


Q: Why is the amount on the tax letter I received from the district different than the amount of impact on the Addendum A? (Added 10.15.15)
A: 
We have $309.79 per student (current local levy amount) plus $424 (local optional revenue not subject to voter approval) today for a total of $733.79 per student. We are seeking $836.82 per student plus $424 (local optional revenue not subject to voter approval) for a total of $1,260.82. This would be an increase of $527.03 per student. Legally we only have to disclose to the public the difference from $836.82 (total per pupil funding amount you'll see on the ballot on November 3, 2015) and $578.38 (the per student amount on the ballot for rescission) which is only $258.44 and makes the tax impact look about half of what it is going to be. We feel it is imperative to be transparent, we want the public to know the full truth which is the higher amount of difference ($1,260.82-$733.79=$527.03). The total amount of increase on a $200,000 home would be $15.28/month, a total of $183.36 annually.


Q: I heard the district purchased a garbage truck but split the funding sources into parts so as not to need board approval for the full expense. Is this true? (Added 10.19.15)
A: 
No. Vehicle #33 (garbage) was purchased July, 1999 -- 2000 International -- $84,500 + $5,489 sales tax = $90,000. Vehicle #31 (recycling) was purchased April, 2005 -- 2005 International -- $110,650 + $6,500 sales tax = $117,000.

The district has spent $136,000 on repairing both garbage trucks since 2011-2012 to the present. There were no chunks of trucks purchased and assembled together to stay under the Board's radar.

The district charges the City and the County to pick up their garbage. We put this money aside in a fund balance and we use it to pay for the repairs and save up for new trucks. We are funding the garbage trucks from fees we charge the City and County. The operation of the truck (the drivers, the gas, etc.) are paid by the General Fund instead of paying Waste Management to pick up. We last did the math in 2011 and it was proven that we are able to save money in comparison to the lowest bid we received for outsourcing refuse hauling.



Q: Is the school district tapping into Destination Medical Center funds? (Added 10.22.15)
A: 
The district does not have access to a revenue source with respect to Destination Medical Center. While there will continue to be growth in student count along with this growth there will be growth in expenditures.


Q: I heard the District spends $4 million annually on consultants? Is this true? (Added 10.23.15)
A: 
No. The District spent $143,509* on fees for consultants for 2014-2015. See table A below for these expenses. The District codes expenditures by the description that Minnesota Department of Education provides - code 305 is for Consulting Fees/Fees for Services. In 2014-2015 the District spent $3.9 million on fees for services (which includes $143,509 for consultants). Fees associated with code 305 are for vendors that offer professional services we cannot do ourselves. To see examples of other fees for services that are coded to this account, see table B below. Some examples of these fees are Rochester Police Department (police officers), Otis Elevator (inspections and repairs), Rochester Community and Technical College (PSEO tuition for our students taking classes).

*This was updated on 10/23/15 to reflect the removal of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc in the amount of $5,600. This is not a consultant but rather offers services in the areas of Human Resources. School Board Support Services in the amount of $750 was also removed. This is also not a consultant but rather a company that Human Resources utilizes for contracted services.
Table A (click to enlarge) Table B (click to enlarge)

 

Q: How does this impact me as a agricultural property owner or a cabin owner within your school district? (Added 10.26.15)
A: 
For agricultural property (both homestead and non-homestead), the taxes for the proposed referendum will be based on the value of the house, garage and one acre of land. There will be no referendum taxes paid on the value of agricultural land and buildings. For seasonal recreational residential property (e.g., cabins), there will be no taxes paid for the proposed referendum. We do have a tax calculator available at: http://ptax.springsted.com/ptax-mn/client/default.aspx?customer_id=l2N8rx9SJmc%3D.


Q: I’m concerned that you are seeking a referendum but yet still asking for fees – such as fees for field trips and early Kindergarten entrance. (Added 10.27.15)
A: 
The fees you are referencing are not new to RPS. They are for field trips. You can click here for a document that outlines the fees for these field trips. These fees have been brought forward in the past for approval as well. The early entrance fee is for families seeking early entrance for their preschooler. This applies to children that will not be 5 on or before September 1st. The Early Entrance Procedure School Board Procedure 503.1 has been in effect since July 17, 2012. Hence it has been used for about three years. Parents, as noted in part A, have always been responsible for the cost of testing. The two changes proposed would be 1) to collect the fee prior to conducting the testing; and 2) to charge a flat fee.

Testing students who are not yet enrolled is a duty above and beyond the school psychologist’s normal duties, so parents of four-year-olds compensate them for their time to do the testing, arrange and hold meetings, score the tests, and write the reports. Students not yet enrolled in Rochester Public Schools do not generate funding for the district.

The proposed flat fee is based on the rates of the approximately 30-40 of these evaluations done each year. It is substantially lower than fees charged by clinics. Charging a flat fee will help parents know the cost in advance, and help streamline the district accounting processes.

The revenue from this referendum would go to the current expenditures that the district has as well as maintaining course offerings and class size. The revenue will not be going for spending on new items or areas we haven’t previously funded.


Q: Why is the district spending money purchasing vans? (Added 10.27.15)
A: 
RPS has purchased 21 vans beginning with the 2013-2014 school year. The district is required to provide transportation for students that qualify for specialized transportation as part of accommodations they are legally entitled to receive. The district began purchasing vans in the 2013-2014 school year. The reason for these van purchases is two-fold.
1) There are not enough transportation vendors available to meet the needs of RPS.
2) It is cheaper for the district to own and operate their own vans to provide these services. 


Q: How much has the district spent down in fund balance? (Added 10.27.15)
A: 
The data going back to 2010-11 for all general fund balances show these year-end ending fund balances:

2010-2011: $35.0 million
2011-2012: $40.0 million
2012-2013: $40.8 million
2013-2014: $35.4 million
2014-2015: $25.2 million (to be released when we release the audited data)
A spend down of $9.8 million in four years ($35.0-$25.2).

If we are talking about unassigned general fund – which takes out staff development, operating capital, and other restricted items, the truth is:

2010-2011: $24.4 million
2011-2012: $29.4 million
2012-2013: $29.6 million
2013-2014: $23.4 million
2014-2015: $19.2 million (to be released when we release the audited data)
A spend down of $5.2 million in four years ($24.4-$19.2).

Q: Is the tax increase from the school board approved levy brand NEW in 2016 – meaning property owners have never paid this tax amount before? Is it an actual first-time increase or it is a tax that was paid in 2015 and it will be continued in 2016? (Added 11.2.15)
A: 
$424.00/pupil of the revenue comes from a school board-approved levy (local optional revenue). Property owners paid taxes to generate this revenue in 2015, this will continue in 2016. $836.82/pupil is the amount on the ballot. However, the actual new revenue is $527.03/pupil ($309/pupil current levy + $527.03/pupil in new levy dollars = $836.82/pupil). The tax impact to increase the levy by $527.03/pupil on a $200,000 home would be $7.49/month ($89.90/year).

The total tax impact from the $1260.82/student (includes voter approved and board approved levy amounts) on a $200,000 home is $15.28/month ($183.36/year). We feel it is imperative to be transparent.
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