St. Paul School Board Approves $17M in Budget Cuts

June 19, 2018 11:11 PM

For the first time in many years, the St. Paul School District expects to see an increase in enrollment in the fall.

The student population is expected to be nearly 35,000.

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That's after a prolonged period of enrollment decreases, which district leaders say is partly to blame for the budget woes facing the second largest school district in the state.

RELATED: Minneapolis Public Schools Approves $33M Budget

Tuesday night, board members wrangled with how to balance the budget, when more money is going out than coming in... $17 million more.

Leaders debated where to make the necessary cuts in the $750 million dollar budget and by how much. 

"Our dollars will only go so far and at some point, our dollars run out so we have to cut somewhere," Marie Schrul, the Chief Financial Officer, said. "Usually programs are the first to go and we always try not to cut at the school level."

Schrul said on average, most programs will get 5 percent less in funding. Other savings will come from cutbacks in staffing. More than 100 positions, including teachers, will be eliminated. However, Schrul said nearly all of them would likely be reassigned somewhere else in the district due to retirements and resignations.

"When you're getting to the budget where most of what you do is meeting the needs of the school, students are our business, and it's hard not to touch the lives of students," Schrul said.

The state's only Russian program at the high school level will be cut and the district will contribute $500,000 less to retiree benefits for the 2018-2019 school year. The reductions take effect in the fall.

There will be some cost increases, however, with the addition of 15 new teachers for the English as a Second Language program, the Indian Education program, and more substitutes to cover for an increase in teacher absences.  

The overall budget doesn't include $6.5 million in emergency funding from state lawmakers.

Board members also plan to ask residents to kick in some money. At the July meeting, they will decide how much the referendum will be when it goes on the November ballot. 

Credits

Beth McDonough

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