FAQs

Who runs the Woodland PTO?

The PTO is governed by a 14-person board including: three selected parents/guardians, two teachers, Woodland’s Principal, one staff secretary, a Parent Volunteer Coordinator, one Chairperson, four Committee Chair persons and a treasurer.

  • Significant parent, teacher, and school administrator involvement beyond the board is critical to the leadership and execution of key PTO initiatives
  • PTO meetings are open to all Woodland parents and staff and attendance is encouraged as engagement and transparency are guiding principles of the PTO

See the Woodland PTO Handbook for more information.

What does the Woodland PTO support?

The 2018/2019 fundraising target is $175,000 or $280 per student.  These funds are essential to supplement government funding to provide Woodland students:

  • Smaller class sizes and a full FTE for the GTYS program
  • Technology including support for 1:1 devices
  • Science equipment for Makerspace like 3D printers
  • Field trips to provide cultural experiences
  • Volunteer resources to provide additional one-on-one time
  • Art and classroom supplies
  • Music equipment
  • Physical education equipment
  • Extracurricular activities like Destination Imagination

How do Woodland's test scores compare to other schools?

Test scores are only one data point in measuring student learning.  Clearly, many other factors should be considered when determining whether a school is successful in helping students reach their full potential.

  • In 2018, Woodland students outperformed State averages by ∼21 percentage points and District 196 averages by ∼13%
    • Woodland ranked #2 of 19 elementary schools in District 196 with ∼79% of Woodland students achieving proficiency. Woodland’s 5-year plan is to have 90%+ of students achieve at proficient levels.
    • State test scores, Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) and alternate assessment Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), for Woodland and all other Minnesota schools can be found at https://rc.education.state.mn.us

Woodland desires a culture of educational excellence where all students reach their full potential.  Woodland PTO provides supplemental funding for exceptional teachers, smaller class sizes, current technology and other classroom resources, that will enhance foundational learning.  Foundational learning will drive future test scores.

How is Woodland's government funding spent?

government funding chartTeachers & administrative staff wages & benefits comprise 95% of Woodland’s budgeted $9,054 per student.

  • Any reduction in government funding or inability to increase with inflation directly impacts resources available to attract and retain top teacher talent.

How are District 196 and other Minnesota schools funded?

district 196 general fund chartNearly 75% of District 196 General Fund revenue comes from the State of Minnesota and approximately 20% comes from local property taxes

  • District 196’s General Fund, the main operating budget that relates to instructional programs, is projected to have $371 million of expenditures in the 2018/2019 school year and $364 million of government funding
  • 75% of funding comes from the State of Minnesota
    • The total amount and the formula as to how funds are distributed is determined by the Governor and Minnesota Legislature
    • Education dollars come from the State’s General Fund, which is funded by individual income taxes, retail sales tax, business, and other taxes
  • 20% of expenditures are funded from local property taxes
    • District 196 passed a 10-year referendum in November 2013 that increased the District’s current property tax levy from $1,111 per pupil to $1,486 per pupil
  • Only 3% of the budget comes directly from the Federal government
    • Includes Title I funding, which is utilized to close the achievement gap. The number of students qualifying for free-and-reduced-price lunch determines each school’s allocation.
  • Current projections suggest a $7 million or 2% funding gap
  • District 196’s funding mix is similar to the overall state mix, which transitioned in 1971 (“Minnesota Miracle”) from being weighted towards local property taxes to State funding (source: https://education.mn.gov/MDE/dse/schfin/; Minnesota School Finance History – 1849-2018)

What is the State of Minnesota funding formula and how does District 196 allocate those funds to each school?

general education program chart

mn basic formula allowance chart~82% of the State funding comes from the basic general education allowance, which was $6,188 per pupil in FY2018 (chart on the right includes local referendum and optional revenue in addition to State Funding)

  • The basic formula allowance has grown approximately at the rate of inflation (~2%) after remaining flat following the last recession
  • The largest variable in State funding between districts and schools is due to “Compensatory Revenue”
    • Determined by the number of pupils eligible to receive free-and-reduced-price lunch
    • The purpose is to reduce the achievement gap by providing additional resources to schools with a greater proportion of low-income students
  • Other factors in determining State funding to each district include:
    • Sparsity revenue for small schools, declining enrollment revenue, equalization revenue for districts with less of a commercial property tax base, students participating in after school and summer school programs, and revenue for the repair and betterment of facilities
  • A detailed description of the State funding formula can be found at https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/Fiscal/Download/2020 or beginning on page 29 of the District 196 2018-19 Preliminary Budget

District 196 generally follows the State funding formula to allocate the General Fund to the individual schools.  There are some exceptions that can contribute to funding differences between schools that appear to have a similar student composition and are similar in size (i.e. differences in teacher experience).

What financial challenges need to be addressed in public schools?

general fund spending chart

special education subsidy chartEducation (~40%) and healthcare (~30%) comprise the two largest components of the State General Fund, which is ~$20 billion per year

  • Demographics and rising costs have increased healthcare as a percentage of the General Fund from 21% in 1990 to over 30% today
  • Budgetary considerations outside of education will continue to pressure State funding for education

~$700 million, or ~9%, of State general education funding is used to subsidize special education programming, and that amount is growing

  • Special education students with an Individualized Educational Plan (“IEP”) are required to receive the support services they need
  • The State and Federal government do not provide adequate funding to provide special education services
  • Additional information about the special education cross Subsidy can be found under the Governor’s Budget Revisions – Dept. of Education link at https://www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/mngov/operating_budget?fy=2018-2019

Woodland is a public school, why do I have to donate?

woodland vs other schools chartAs described above, Minnesota school funding is largely dependent on a per pupil allowance that is determined by the State.

  • Woodland receives $720 per pupil less than the median District 196 elementary school due to a lower number of students qualifying for free-and-reduced-price lunch, which results in a lower operating budget
  • Public school funding increases have approximately matched inflation. However, General Fund dollars are increasingly being used to subsidize special education programs that the government requires, but does not provide funding for.
  • See the 9/27/18 Sun Thisweek article entitled Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District preparing for cuts

The Woodland PTO believes the Woodland community should have the opportunity to determine the appropriate level of resources to achieve educational excellence for our students, not be limited by a government formula.

  • The Additional Cost to Educate (“ACE”) Woodland students is $280 per student more than government funding

The impact of the ACE funding gap currently is: 1) larger class sizes, 2) inability to hire a full FTE for GTYS, and 3) less operating budget for basic technology, STEM equipment, classroom supplies, and other resources (see what the Woodland PTO currently supports above)

What if I can't donate at the ACE level?

The Annual Giving Campaign goal is to have 100% family participation, and every dollar makes a difference.  We appreciate each family’s careful consideration for the appropriate donation level.  Thank you for your support for Woodland and strong public schools.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes, direct donations to Woodland PTO are 100% tax deductible

  • Buying things like cookie dough, pizzas, wreaths, or candy to support Woodland are not tax deductible

Private schools require tuition, which is not tax deductible ($12,000-$28,000 per student per year), as well as an annual fundraiser