The Minneapolis school board voted 7-2 to adopt the final 2019-20 budget at its regular meeting Tuesday night.
But the budget doesn't take into account a 2% per-pupil funding formula increase from the state, which gives the district an additional $6.5 million. District leaders said they plan to earmark those extra dollars — which wouldn't be available until the fiscal year that starts in July — to purchase a new districtwide mathematics curriculum. The district also got an additional $1.5 million to offset its growing funding deficits for special education. The budget will be amended in the fall to reflect the new state money.
Board Members KerryJo Felder and Bob Walser voted against the budget. Felder said she would have liked to see that money go directly to mental health support for students, athletics and special education.
"There are many kids who need this money right now," Felder said. "We have a lot of things we're overlooking before we get the math curriculum."
The school-by-school allocations were $376 million, while the central office — the district's headquarters that supports services at the system's 70-plus schools and programs — got $460 million, which includes transportation costs, facilities, nutrition services and community education. The approved budget also adds $4 million to the reserves and ensures predictable staffing in all schools.
The district recently erased a $33 million deficit thanks in part to voters' approval in a $30 million referendum.
"This year's budget is the second balanced budget," said Ibrahima Diop, the district's chief financial officer. "This is a sign that the district is moving in the right direction fiscally."
Meanwhile, a board committee, under pressure from parents and staff, recently delayed a vote on the district's new strategic plan intended to close a persistent achievement gap between whites and students of color in the state's third-largest school system.
In May, the committee moved the vote from August to December and directed staff to engage parents and staff, who protested that they were kept in the dark and pushed out of the planning process. At Tuesday's board meeting, board members said, they too, need to get clarity and specifics on how the plan will make improvements.
The three-year strategic plan, rolled out at the end of April by district leaders, calls for changes in attendance boundaries for some schools, reassigns students to new schools, and possibly threatens some language-immersion and magnet programs.
Improving academic achievement, boosting enrollment, and restoring parents' trust by providing rigorous instruction and equal access to programs across the system is the focus. The plan also focuses on K-3 literacy, particularly for black and American Indian students. About 15% of American Indian and 22% of black students are reading at grade level by third grade, compared to 76% of whites.
But parents and staff argue that redrawing attendance zones to fill under-enrolled schools will not improve academics. They say it will lead to segregation and accelerate enrollment declines.
At the board meeting Tuesday night, community members demanded that the district release data detailing the possible effects and costs of the plan. But leaders of the financially embattled district said they can't provide that level of detail until they look at school choice priority and redraw attendance boundaries, which they say will happen in the implementation period. Superintendent Ed Graff said the plan the board picks in December must be financially sustainable and support his top four priorities: literacy, equity, social and emotional learning and support services for students.