Audit: Fewer districts benefiting from Minnesota program to help schools with construction costs

A program designed to assist financially struggling schools in Minnesota pay for construction costs is helping few districts and paying out less money, a new audit from the Office of Legislative Auditor shows.

The Debt Service Equalization (DSE) program was set up in the early 90s to help districts with low tax bases per student fund renovations and construction of new buildings. However, in recent years, the audit found the program has helped few districts.

Since 1997, when the program helped 131 districts, the number of districts utilizing the program has fallen 64 percent. In 2019, only 34 of the state's 329 districts received aid from the DSE.

The amount of debt the program covered between 1997 and 2019 also fell from 26 percent to 13 percent.

To tackle this program, the Office of Legislative Auditor is recommending lawmakers change the parameters for districts to be eligible for the program and including different factors, like considering the age of district buildings.

You can read the full report below.