The Minneapolis School District has a $15 million to $17 million deficit for the current school year because it failed to budget for expenses such as pension contributions and the cost of a new teachers’ contract.
District officials said Wednesday that personnel cuts will not be necessary to pay for the shortfall. Instead the school board’s finance committee approved a recommendation that the district stop investing $22 million into two funds that are not yielding sufficient profits and use that money to cover the deficit.
“We started [the fiscal year] knowing there would be some areas that would be challenging,” said Chief Financial Officer Ibrahima Diop.
Officials anticipated the multimillion-dollar shortfall after the district’s auditors found that in fiscal year 2015 the district was under-budgeting for some expenses and then amending the numbers throughout the year. Diop, who joined the district this year, warned that this current budget was crafted in the same manner.
In 2015, the district spent about $14 million more than it budgeted and dipped into its reserve funds to do it.
The auditors found “a lot of things were budgeted at a lower level than you normally spend.” For example, the auditors said their own contract was for $108,000, but the district only budgeted $100,000.
The estimated $17 million deficit includes about $7 million for the district’s required contribution to the public employees retirement fund. The district also did not budget any more money for a new labor contract, which cost about $6 million. It also did not allocate nearly $2 million for school resource officers and several million dollars for plant operations.
“There were several other areas that were not fully funded, $200,000 or $300,000 here and there,” Diop said.
Diop said he did not know why the previous financial staff crafted the budget in such a manner, but he and his staff members, who are almost all new to the district, have committed to budget expenses accurately.
“We want to make sure we can move ahead doing the best we can do for the community and our students,” Diop said. “We are doing what’s needed and we will get there.”