Marquee Minnesota corporations pledge $13M for Mpls. schools

  • Article by: COREY MITCHELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2011 - 11:02 AM

Four Twin Cities-based corporate giants announced Monday a combined $13 million in donations to the Minneapolis School District, which is facing more than twice that amount in potential funding cuts from the state.

"There is an education crisis in America," said Laysha Ward, foundation president for Target, which is putting up more than $6 million over the next three years for literacy programs. "We all need to come together to provide a first-rate education for our children."

Cargill is stepping up with about $5 million over three years for science, technology and math education. Another roughly $2.8 million -- from Cargill, General Mills and Medtronic -- is earmarked for training and development of principals and other leaders in the district.

"These generous gifts represent the best of what makes Minnesota great: A strong partnership betwen the private and public sectors on behalf of our children's futures," said Pam Costain, CEO of AchieveMpls, the foundation that supports the school district.

Though significant, the multimillion-dollar contributions amount to about 2 percent of the district's annual $650 million budget.

District Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson forecasts losing about $27 million in funding over the next two years under proposed legislation that would cut integration and compensatory education funding.

The district says the reduction would force it to eliminate school choice and all-day kindergarten, increase class sizes and stagger school start times due to the possible need for a tiered bus route system. Programs for English language learners could also end up feeling the consequence.

Corey Mitchell • 612-673-4491

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