New MPS superintendent marks first day, but challenges lie ahead

First day of school for new MPS superintendent, challenges ahead

First day of school for new MPS superintendent, challenges ahead

Monday marks day one for the new Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent. Dr. Lisa Sayles-Adams takes over after more than a year without a permanent leader and it comes as the district faces new challenges.

Sayles-Adams delivered a message on social media to the MPS community.

“I am Dr. Lisa Sayles-Adams and it is my honor to be your new superintendent,” she said. “… Today is my first day as superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. But it isn’t my first day here, as I actually started my career in public education in MPS, as a teacher in 1996.”

Sayles-Adams’ roots in Minnesota and education experiences give parents like Greta Callahan hope.

Callahan is also the president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT). She says Sayles-Adams has some big messes to clean up amid declining enrollment, staffing shortages and decisions about closing or consolidating some schools.

MFT is currently in contract negotiations with the district.

“We have teachers fleeing this district at a higher rate than all the other districts,” Callahan said. “And then the district decided one day, they’re going to shove thousands of kids into a different school in the middle of a pandemic. Trust was lost.”

Callahan blames the “middle management” for creating a “manufactured crisis.”

She says the district’s general fund grew by $81 million between 2018 and 2023. Despite the surplus, Minneapolis Public Schools says it needs to reduce $90 million in spending for the next year to remain fiscally solvent.

“This is a time to invest in our kids, and all it takes is the right people to make that a priority,” Callahan said.

According to MFT’s latest report, the average teacher salary in MPS is 6% lower than the average pay in neighboring districts like St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin.