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Report provides a budget 'road map' for school district

The Farmington School District got what amounts to a road map to budget cuts Monday with the presentation of a draft of a report prepared to identify potential savings.

The report, prepared by accounting firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, focused on district-level administration. It identified from $636,000 to nearly $1.1 million in potential savings, depending on a number of factors.

Those savings will not come all at once, assuming they come at all. Baker Tilly's David Varana suggested it could take years to fully implement the changes, and he said getting there will not be easy.

"These are not things that you're going to flip as switch and they're going to happen tomorrow," Varana said.

Among the items on the list are eliminating some positions, replacing district-owned finance software with an off-site system and outsourcing some second-shift custodial work.

The list also includes asking district employees to pay for a portion of their health insurance costs. That change -- district employees currently do not pay for any of their health insurance costs -- would have to be negotiated in the next round of contract talks.

Varana said overall the Farmington district has done a good job paring back its expenses.

"We really had to work to come up with these decision items," Varana said. "I've worked in districts where you couldn't walk down the hallways without tripping over $500,000."

Varana said the district's finance department is staffed well below the company's benchmark.

In other areas, the report found the district had more staffing than was necessary. School-level district administrators -- principals and assistant principals -- all work year round. Other districts have people in those positions who work fewer days.

The report was well received by board members. Board member Craig Davis called it one of the better reports he's seen as a board member.

Monday's report was a draft. The board will receive a final report before its next meeting.

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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