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Editorial: Have your say on budget cuts

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opinion Farmington, 55024
Farmington Independent
651-463-7730 customer support
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

The Farmington School District wants your opinion.

As the district starts work toward eliminating a projected budget shortfall of more than $1 million for next year, finance director Carl Colmark plans to hold public input sessions to hear what residents have to say about the matter. He wants to know where residents think cuts can be made, and what programs or areas should be left alone as much as possible.

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It is an important chance for residents to help shape the decisions the district makes, and we hope district residents take advantage. The more input Colmark and other district leaders have, the better their decisions will be.

Those decisions will be important even beyond the coming year's budget. Colmark's projections show the district's budget problems only getting worse in the next few years. Colmark has projected a shortfall of more than $4.6 million for the 2016-17 school year.

That is why it makes sense for the district to start figuring things out now. Reductions the district makes now, either by making cuts or finding more efficient ways of doing things, will be magnified, in some cases if not all, down the line. Better to save a little bit each year over five years than make a bigger cut somewhere down the line.

It is still far from clear what form any of these budget adjustments will take. Board members made it obvious Monday they would like class sizes to stay as small as possible. They also mostly rejected the idea of closing the budget gap with an operating levy, something that should make taxpayers in the district happy.

There are plenty of options out there to get this done, some of which may not have come up yet at the district office. There may be opportunities for partnership with the private sector or for doing things more efficiently.

The more people attend the meetings the district holds, the better the chance of finding the best possible solution.

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