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Farmington School District 192 seeks input on finances

The Farmington School Board is looking for a few residents who are willing to offer their input on issues related to the district's finances.

At a workshop meeting Monday, citizen's finance committee chair Laura Beem announced plans to appoint six or so residents to a committee that will advise the board on the district's budget, debt refinancing and facility issues, among other things.

"We might also look at demographic studies. Legislative initiatives," Beem said.

The citizen's finance committee is not new, but it has been essentially dormant, without any residents serving on it.

Finance director Carl Colmark said that's not necessarily unusual. Such committees can wither if the members don't have projects that keep their attention. Colmark said he has worked with seven similar committees in the three districts where he has served.

"Sometimes they can come and go," Colmark said. "If you keep them interested and give them good projects, they work. If they're idle, they just kind of fade away."

Colmark sees value in the committees, though. He said they can create new kind of connection between the district and the public.

"They can help foster a level of confidence in the community," he said. "They're a good conduit between the board and the citizens."

The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District has had a similar budget advisory council for several years.

Colmark said the key to keeping committee members interested will be giving them projects beyond just reviewing the district's budget before board members approve it each year. He imagines committee members playing a role in looking at demographic and enrollment projections and being involved in the discussion as the district considers how to implement all-day kindergarten starting in the fall of 2014. They could also provide an outside point of view as the district considers changes to facility fees.

The district is looking particularly for residents with a background in finance or management. Colmark would like at least one member who has experience in government or nonprofit finance. Beem said the group would likely meet quarterly and terms would last two years.

Applications will be available at the district's website, Colmark hopes to have appointments made before the end of summer.

"Hopefully we can get some good people," Beem said.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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