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WDC schools fret they're working on borrowed money, borrowed time

The 2010 Minnesota Legislative session looks like an old-time cliffhanger to Wadena-Deer Creek superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom.

Dahlstrom and her staff have been running District 2155 on $2 million worth of borrowed money for the last several months.

"They typically won't touch K-12 education until the very end and then they are going to have to balance the budget on K-12 education," Dahlstrom said.

The state has to come up with $3 billion to balance the budget by Monday, May 17, or return for a special session. Education annually receives the largest percentage of the state budget.

"I believe they have two choices if they aren't going to raise taxes and one would be reduction in a certain percentage across the board or certain programs or do a larger shift for next year. They are talking about a 33 percent shift."

This year's shift is 27 percent, meaning the state delays that much of the school's promised funding.

Dahlstrom, like many other school administrators around the state, is in the uncomfortable position of not knowing what the future holds for her district.

"The best guess is that there will have to be a special session this summer," Dahlstrom said.

The cuts that District 2155 has made this year have been based on retrieving the money that the state has withheld in order to balance the budget.

"We have made cuts with the assumption that we would not be losing any additional funding," Dahlstrom said. "The cuts were based on a reduction of students."