Minneapolis Public Schools approves budget cuts that will remove 300 positions

It's facing a $33 million budget shortfall.
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Budget cuts will reduce full-time employee numbers in the Minneapolis Public Schools district by 300, over half of which are teaching positions.

The cuts were approved by an 8-1 vote by its board on Tuesday evening, helping the school district reduce a $33 million budget shortfall it is facing in the 2018-19 year.

As a result of the cuts, MPS tells Bring Me The News there will be a reduction of 300 full-time positions, a 4.75 percent overall reduction in its full-time employees.

Of those, around 165 are teachers, with many of these reductions being brought about via retirements, enrollment declines, and position changes.

Information on the MPS website however also concedes that layoffs are a possibility.

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The board faced a decision of making the cuts now, or waiting another year when the deficit would have been upwards of $50 million.

The district made similar cuts worth $28 million last year, reducing full-time roles by almost 300 then as well, as the Star Tribune reported.

But the district said these were one-time cuts and didn't reduce its ongoing costs, leading to a $16.5 million deficit being brought over to the 2018-19 year.

Inflationary costs of staff salary increases have added an extra $10 million in costs, as well as additional benefits putting a further $7 million on the ledger.

As KSTP reports, the board did approve putting $6 million back into certain middle and high schools on Tuesday in exchange for making more cuts to the MPS central office.

This followed calls from Southwest and Washburn high schools to restore some of the funding, but the Star Tribune reports it led to criticism of the board from those who said they hadn't done enough to address problems facing schools with higher populations of students of color.

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The board will be looking for the help of city residents in November, also approving night two referendum questions for Minneapolis voters.

The first will ask for an increase of its levy to the state-allowed maximum, and the second would allow it to shift technology expenses away from the general fund. These would help it increase its revenue by $30 million.

Minneapolis isn't the only school district making cuts. Gov. Mark Dayton tried to get the state legislature to cover $138 million in reported school district shortfalls.

Of that, 26 Twin Cities district had a combined deficit of $108 million.

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Board members are looking into a Tuesday through Friday school week to help save $5 million. The cost cutting plan would eliminate 17 school days from next year's calendar, but classroom hours wouldn't change. If approved, WCCO reports Burnsville-Eagan-Savage would be the first district in the Twin Cities metro to have a four-day week.