School Finance 101

  • Building Fund: Used to fund construction and maintenance projects.

    • Grand Forks Public Schools currently levies 10 mills. Per North Dakota law, school systems can levy up to 20 mills through its Building Fund.
    • Currently, GFPS Building Fund proceeds are paying down principal and interest for projects from 2009-2010 through 2029.

    ESSER: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. Money that has been allocated at the federal level for schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

    • ESSER I: $2,057,149 - used on technology upgrades. This will positively impact the technology renewal cycle for the next four years.
    • ESSER II: $8,235,471 - used as follows:
      • Addressing learning loss: $1,086,000
      • Upgrading HVAC: $2,564,971
      • Supplemental learning: $775,000
      • Technology: $2,449,500
      • Curriculum: $1,000,000
      • Mental Health: $360,000
    • ESSER III: $18,495,697, of which 20% must be used to address learning loss and mental health. These funds are expected to be available for schools in North Dakota in the fall of 2021.

    General Fund: The daily operating fund.

    • In 2013, the North Dakota Legislature took on a higher portion of school district and county funding. Currently, approximately 65% of General Fund revenue comes from the state of North Dakota.
    • Approximately 83% of General Fund expenditures are for salaries and benefits of employees.
    • Monthly expenses during the school year can exceed $9 million.
    • A healthy fund balance is critical because it provides funds between paying bills in any fiscal year and when revenue is received. This balance should be 15% of annual expenses, or approximately $17.25 million for Grand Forks Public Schools at this time.
      • By July 2021, the School District only had approx. two weeks of operating expenses in reserve.
      • The General Fund balance on June 30, 2021 would have been $11.85 million higher (or approximately $16.8 million in total) had we not needed to pay construction expenditures from the General Fund the past seven years.

    Mill: A unit of property taxation. One mill is equal to $1 in property tax levied per $1,000 of property's assessed value. 

    • The taxable value of a property is calculated by taking the assessed value of a property multiplied by the residential ratio (percent of fair market value to which the tax rate will be applied to).

    Grand Forks School District Property Tax Example

    Per Pupil Payment: Calculation of net state aid payments from the state of North Dakota per pupil at each school district.

    • The gross per pupil payment per student in North Dakota during the 2020-2021 year was $10,036.
      • After deductions for local property tax, open enrollment tuition, Federal Impact Aid, etc., Grand Forks Public Schools received $8,851 per student last year.
    • There has been approximately a 6% total increase in per pupil payments over six years of funding (2017-2023).