Minneapolis Schools Cut $33 Million; Planning Referendum Questions in November

June 13, 2018 06:59 PM

After roughly a year of meetings and discussions, Minneapolis Public Schools has eliminated its $33 million budget deficit.

After a vote Tuesday night, district officials said it marks the first time in a decade they have a balanced budget without using reserve funds.


RELATED: Minneapolis Public Schools Approves $33M Budget

But it also means 300 full-time equivalent positions will be eliminated. Of those, 165 will be teacher positions.

At what schools those eliminations might take place is not yet known - although the district is hoping retirements and position changes will mean layoffs won't be necessary.

"From this point on, what we want to do, what we need to do as a district, is spend within our means," said Ibrahima Diop, the district's chief financial officer.

RELATED: Minneapolis School Board Passes Budget

But the district also wants to increase revenue. So it plans to come to voters this fall asking to first increase individual student funding by $485 per pupil. If approved, t hat would result in an additional $18 million for the district.

A second ballot question would authorize a technology levy - letting the district shift $12 million in current technology expenses away from the general fund and freeing up that money.

Levies Usually a Winner at the Polls

If history is any indicator, Minneapolis Public Schools' operating levy (question #1) has a high likelihood of passing.

53 total operating levies statewide. 47 passed, 6 failed. 89 percent pass rate.

33 total operating levies statewide. 22 passed, 11 failed. 66 percent pass rate.

61 total operating levies statewide. 50 passed, 11 failed. 82 percent pass rate.

Source: Minnesota School Boards Association

"The technology levy is one that Minneapolis Public Schools has not utilized yet, but all the neighboring districts have, or many of them have," Diop said.

RELATED: Parents, Students Raise Concerns Over Minneapolis School Budget

"Why has the district not utilized it?  I don't know why we didn't do that in the past, but it is certainly open and an option for us."

Minneapolis voters had their own reactions.

"I would be supportive of that because I want the school systems to benefit as much as they can," Minneapolis resident Madeline Beyer said.

"If I know the funds from the taxes is definitely going to the school funds for the kids, you know, I wouldn't have a problem paying it," added Charles English, who has grandchildren who attend Minneapolis schools.

The district said despite losing positions, they hope to keep class sizes the same - ranging from 24 to 36 students depending on grade level.

If recent history is any indicator, the Minneapolis Public Schools operating levy has a high likelihood of passing. In 2015, 53 operating levies were on the ballot across Minnesota. All but six passed. One year later, 22 of the 33 operating levies passed.

And last year, voters approved 50 out of the 61 operating levies statewide.


Jessica Miles

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