What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Money spigot wider next year for schools

Posted by: Steve Brandt under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government Updated: February 24, 2014 - 3:13 PM

The 2013 Legislature backloaded the increases in school aid to Minnesota schools this biennium , and the payoff comes next school year for Minneapolis and other districts.

Initial projections are that Minneapolis can expect 2.5 percent more money for the 2014-2015 school year, measured by general fund revenue. But the news looks much better at the school level, where the district's finance folks project a 5.8 percent increase in money going directly to schools.

Schools will get their budgets on March 14, which starts the process in buildings of determining what positions are safe or not. The preliminary allocations for this year's school budgets last March prompted howls of protest, especially from growing schools in southwest Minneapolis, before several million dollars more was added.

When money that goes to central departments but is spent at the school level is included, the projected increase in money available for school use is 5.4 percent. Finance officials said their goal is to bump that to 8 percent. Some of that will be consumed by yet-to-be-determined wage increases for teachers and other school-level workers, with teacher contract negotiations continuing.

In what may come as a surprise to some, the projected budget next year for the district's central departments is forecast to drop by just over 8 percent. That's despite expected hefty fuel bills and an expected need to boost spending on busing.

The shift in spending from central departments to schools reflects the SHIFT agenda articulated by Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson last May.

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