The Winona public school district is one of 451 entities across the state to be honored with the 2019 School Finance Award from the Minnesota Department of Education.
Those who earn the award are recognized for timely submission of audited financial data and meeting statutory deadlines related to reporting, according to the MDE release. This year, 571 reporting entities were eligible.
“It’s something we’re very proud of as a district,” said superintendent Rich Dahman. “We want to make sure we’re at the cutting edge of school finance and alert to all the requirements at the state level.”
WAPS has received the award seven of the last eight years, Dahman said.
There is no application process for the award. MDE examined financial data from each entity’s 2018 Uniform Financial Accounting and Reporting Standards, better known as UFARS.
In addition to meeting standards in accuracy of reporting and timely submission of data, the school district also had to meet select indicators of financial health, including a zero or positive balance in several specific fund balance accounts.
WAPS’ fund balance has been the subject of debate as it has slipped to four percent, less than half of the district’s goal balance of 10 percent, something they have been warned could further affect their credit rating.
In their most recent round of budget cuts, the school board voted to grow the fund balance by a half a percent for the 2019-20 school year.
Dahman said while growing the fund balance is important, it’s also important to honor accurate financial reporting. The school district’s finance department is made up of six individuals and headed by director Sarah Slaby.