Minneapolis Public Schools will slash hundreds of positions in schools and its central offices to plug a $28 million budget gap, projections from the school district show.
The preliminary numbers released this week represent a districtwide drop of nearly 300 full-time positions, and at least that many employees would be affected. Some district employees work part time, meaning a few people could make up one full-time position.
The numbers show a 4 percent cut in full-time equivalent positions, hitting both schools and the district’s central office, as the budget process cranks forward in the state’s third-largest school district.
The data give a window into Superintendent Ed Graff’s administrative priorities as he embarks on his first Minneapolis School District budget. With its cuts to central services and school allocations, the district said at a finance committee meeting Thursday that its budget gap narrows from $28 million to $21 million.
Graff’s instructions to schools were to maintain class sizes “because we knew that was the first and foremost piece of our referendum,” he said. “And then we said, ‘Use the equity kind of lens as you walk through that.’ ”
Most schools that project a drop in enrollment between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years are slated to scale back on their number of full-time equivalent positions, according to a Star Tribune analysis of proposed cuts.
Of schools with projected enrollment growth, more than half are slated to see drops in full-time equivalent positions. Proposed employee changes are the result of enrollment projections, the district said.
The majority of elementary, middle and high schools throughout the district are poised to see staff reductions.
Growing schools like Webster Elementary and Sanford Middle won out. Their enrollments — and staffing — are projected to increase. Meanwhile, at Franklin Middle, enrollment is projected to grow by nearly 14 percent, but full-time equivalent positions could drop by about 4 percent.
Budgeting is ongoing
District spokeswoman Gail Plewacki said that schools and departments have sent in their proposed budgets, but the district has not made any final decisions. The budget is expected to be presented to the board in May and voted on June 6.
In February, Graff announced that he would cut central services by 10 percent, trim school allocations by 2.5 percent and draw from a “one-time” use of reserves to tackle the shortfall.
Potential cuts have already received pushback from the school community, ranging from principals to building engineers. One hundred protesters flooded a school board meeting April 18, claiming a group of minority educators had been “pushed out for advocating for students” during budget season.
The board voted to reinstate a group of educators who had lost their jobs, provoking opposition from school principals earlier this week.
The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has rallied behind building engineers, who have lost positions in the district. In a tense meeting Thursday, school board Chair Rebecca Gagnon asked Graff whether schools were choosing to keep staff who do teacher evaluations instead of those who support students.
Graff responded that he’s spent months pinpointing the district’s priorities, and 11th-hour reversals would be difficult.
“That’s part of the challenge here,” he said. “We have to be clear in what … we’re valuing.”