Minneapolis Public Schools will limit hiring and cut travel to shave costs as it grapples with tight finances.
According to changes announced Thursday, hiring will be frozen for central office positions that don’t directly work with students. Positions that serve students, including classroom teachers and support staff, won’t be affected. Further, any out-of-district travel “will be reduced to an absolute minimum,” a district statement said.
The district estimates saving between $2 million and $3.5 million with the freeze, and up to $900,000 from travel, based on past years.
“We need to make some important decisions about our basic infrastructure so that the programs and services MPS offers don’t continue to cost more than we can afford,” said Superintendent Ed Graff in the statement. “We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”
The district has had multimillion-dollar deficits for most of the past 10 years and has dipped into its reserves for the past seven years to cover them.
The district announced its $33 million deficit for the next school year earlier this fall. Factors include hefty costs for special education and English language learner services, declining enrollment and increasing salaries, Graff said in an October staff e-mail.
To deal with this school year’s deficit, Graff this spring announced a 10 percent cut to central services.
While central office vacancies won’t be filled, vacancies among classroom teachers, student support staff, plant operations, transportation and food service will be filled. Unfilled vacancies can “help offset the District’s current school year deficit,” a district hiring document said.
Any exceptions to the freeze have to be approved by senior district leadership.
The hiring freeze will continue through the end of the school year but will get another look in the spring when budget allocations and staffing are decided, according to the hiring document.
Some travel is unavoidable, like trips required by grants or paid for by grant money, travel under a collective bargaining agreement or trips under state and federal rules. District officials still hope to minimize those costs.