A note to readers:

Minneapolis Public Schools finances are important but can be confusing. As we continue to cover the district’s budget, we want to pause from time to time and explain some of the terminology and concepts. If you have a term or concept  you’d like to know more about, or something you find confusing, let us know in the text box at the bottom of the page. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll try to track it down for you.

Not sure what the general fund is? See an explanation here.

The general fund is the accounting fund that Minneapolis Public Schools uses to track the revenue and expenses for the majority of the district’s operations, like student instruction, transportation and student support services. The difference between the revenue that comes into the general fund and the expenses that are paid for through the general fund, is called the fund balance.

The general fund balance includes revenue that must be used for a specific purpose, as well as revenue that does not already have a designated purpose. There are four categories of general fund balance that have a designated purpose, which, depending on the purpose, are called non-spendable, restricted, committed or assigned.

Non-spendable denotes the part of the general fund balance that will be used for known future expenses. Restricted refers to the portion of the general fund balance that comes from revenue that can only be spent for particular expenses. The portion of the general fund balance designated as committed refers to money that the school board has designated for a particular purpose through a board resolution. Assigned general fund balance is money that the school board has directed the Superintendent and administration to use for an intended purpose.

Any money in the general fund balance that isn’t in one of these four designated categories is called unassigned general fund balance.

All of the district’s funds, including the food service fund, community service fund, debt service fund and capital fund have a fund balance. And each fund balance can be separated into unassigned or one of the four categories of designated purposes.

Next time, an explanation of why the district has an unassigned general fund balance.