When school starts next month, some students will see cut classes and increased fees to help districts balance budgets.
If you're a high school student in Edina, Chaska, Watertown-Mayer or Westonka, don't forget your wallet when you go back to school.
After years of budget cuts targeted at thinning staff, some school districts are now turning to budget-balancing moves that students will feel in the form of higher fees and fewer classes.
"Families are going to see the impact of limited new funding," Edina Superintendent Ric Dressen said. "For us to continue to offer comprehensive programs ... we're going to have to look at creative options."
In Edina, high school students' parking fees will go up from $112.50 a semester to $150 this year. Students will also pay $13 more for Advanced Placement tests, $15 to $30 more in athletic fees and $30 to $60 more in activities fees; the cap for a family is $600. Dressen said the increases make fees comparable to surrounding districts and give a slight revenue boost.
For students who can't afford the fees, scholarships are available, he said. "The last thing we want to do is price them out of business."
Staff cuts also are continuing. The $2.3 million in reductions Edina leaders made include 39 positions that were eliminated or not filled after retirements or buyouts. Elementary Spanish classes were cut; the district is looking to offer language classes to elementary school students through fee-based community education.
For Chaska and Chanhassen high school students, parking fees will jump $25 and the maximum cap for activity and athletic fees will go up $100; the cap for one student is $600 and for families is $1,000.
Business Manager DeeDee Kahring said the student fee increases are a small portion of the overall $2.4 million in two-year reductions or adjustments that the Eastern Carver County School District board approved.
Among other cuts, the district laid off four teachers and won't fill an assistant superintendent position that will be vacated in March.
Across the west metro:
•Westonka students will pay $10 to $15 more in activities fees this year. The school district also trimmed $300,000 from this year's budget largely by laying off, reducing hours or not filling vacated positions for 10 staff.
•Watertown-Mayer students also will see fee increases this fall. The district cut more than $500,000, in part by laying off two elementary school teachers and increasing revenue through things like charging students $100 for non-required choir or band lessons, upping hockey fees by $150 and raising the family cap for activities fees to $850.
•Wayzata school leaders decided not to increase student fees to help make up for a $2.5 million shortfall. Instead they found other savings and will draw from reserve funds to balance the budget.
•Bloomington school district leaders drew $3.8 million from reserves and cut $1 million, largely by modifying schedules, which cut about 10 high school teachers.
•Hopkins school leaders trimmed about $600,000 through measures like cutting eight staff members and special education transportation costs.
•Richfield laid off 17 teachers as part of reductions to cut $1.16 million from the budget.
•Norwood Young America leaders cut $41,000 through staff cuts, mostly from retirements.
Meanwhile, a few districts escaped cuts this year.
In Minnetonka and Waconia, school leaders said growing enrollment helped them avoid making cuts.
Delano Schools covered a $800,000 shortfall by drawind down reserves. And Orono leaders balanced the budget by reducing costs and freezing pay for staff, including Superintendent Karen Orcutt.
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141