Cliff Notes for March 22, 2024

  • MSBA - 2023 K-12 Funding Analysis
    Although SWWC does not receive any direct funding from the state, all our funding comes from fee-for-service or grants, I thought the funding analysis provided by MSBA was interesting. Basically, MSBA was looking at the revenue that school districts received after the “historic funding increase” from the last legislative session.

    Without getting too far into the weeds, state revenue to K-12 public schools in Minnesota can be broken down into the following types, based on how the revenue can be used:
    • Discretionary – dollars schools can use as they decide.
    • Categorical - dollars schools can use for only specific reasons.
    • Grants – typically competitive, if awarded, can only be used for specific reasons.
    • Non-K12 Revenue – dollars that typically go to state agencies, higher education, non-profits, and a limited amount to private schools.

    Here is the breakdown:
    • Discretionary: 6% increase
    • Categorical: 35% increase
    • Grants – K12: 167% increase
    • Non-K12 Revenue: 108% increase

    The story here is really about the categorical dollars available to schools. These dollars must be spent on specific programs and often, the dollars are not fully funded. This creates unfunded, or not fully funded mandates, requiring schools to use discretionary dollars to cover the mandated program costs. This also takes away discretionary dollars that can be used for increasing salaries and benefits. Even with the 6% increase, this falls well short of the Consumer Price Index.

    The impact on SWWC? Many of our programs and services costs are not mandated. Those costs would be a part of the discretionary revenues our members receive. The added stress from unfunded mandates on local school district budgets increasingly requires schools to prioritize where funds will be spent. It is imperative that we understand this and provide the best programs and services we can, at affordable costs.  

    SWWC Facility Updates
    We continue to work on the asbestos issue with the Social Science building on the SMSU campus in Marshall. Not all the details have been worked out or are ready to be released, but I am confident we will be able to find a solution that works for everyone. Hopefully, the solution won’t impact the timeline or budget too negatively!

    The New London project continues to be going very well! In the latest “six-week look ahead” we continue to be on schedule. By the end of April, the main building painting will be completed, and flooring is scheduled to start by the first of May. This is an exciting time as we continue to invest in providing facilities for our Setting IV students and staff.

    The agency administrative office plans continue to move ahead as well. The City of Marshall will be considering a resolution at the end of March for the financing of the project. This is right in line with our plans and will allow us to work on bids for the construction side of the project.

    Legislative Session Update
    It has been a fast-paced legislative session to date, with several weeks full of committee hearings as both the House and Senate education policy committees wrapping up hearing individual bills. In the next week or so, both committees will be advancing their omnibus education policy bills. The omnibus bill is a multi-paged accumulation of all sorts of bills the house and senate want to be considered this session. There are several bills that could potentially affect SWWC and our school members if passed. These include expansion of unemployment, adoption of a cell phone use policy, providing stipends for student teachers, establishing statewide academic standards in health, and prohibiting book bans in public schools and libraries. A little bit to go yet, but a lot is still being considered.

    One specific bill that was passed and signed by the Governor was a bill clarifying the use of school resource officers. If you remember last summer, there was quite a bit of news around a law passed last year, making it more difficult for schools to use School Resource Officers. This bill and new legislation addressed the concerns from a year ago and should make it better for schools to use this resource.

    Health Insurance Renewal
    We are at the beginning planning stages for deciding our health insurance program for the 2024-25 fiscal year. We continue to see a significant increase in our claim’s costs, along with a significant shift in enrollment to a higher deductible/lower premium plan has led to costs being greater than income. The shift mentioned here is understandable based on the increase in premium costs we saw for the current year.

    Another way to show this increase in cost over time is to look at the per-member per-month costs. In December 2021, our per member per month cost was $186.26. In January 2024, our per-member per-month cost was $630.68. As a result, our health insurance costs (claims use) are greater than our health insurance income (annual premium). This trend, along with a continued trend in medical inflation, is what drives our annual renewal.

    It is our intention to bring a representative group of staff together to look at options as we consider ways to address the overall costs of our health insurance program. The intention is to look at ways we can have a good health insurance program, at affordable costs. Stay tuned as more details and decisions are made over the next few weeks.

    SWWC Inservice and New Employee Orientation Dates
    2023-24 School Year
    Spring Inservice: Thursday, June 6, 2024

    2024-25 School Year
    New Employee Orientation: Tuesday, August 6, 2024
    Fall Inservice: Friday, August 16, 2024
    Spring Inservice: Thursday, June 5, 2025

    2025-26 School Year
    New Employee Orientation: Tuesday, August 5, 2025
    Fall Inservice: Thursday, August 21, 2025
    Spring Inservice: Tuesday, June 9, 2026

    2026-27 School Year
    New Employee Orientation: Tuesday, August 4, 2026
    Fall Inservice: Thursday, August 20, 2026
    Spring Inservice: Tuesday, June 8, 2027