The Minneapolis school board on Tuesday night reviewed a proposed budget for next year, the first year the district's sweeping comprehensive redesign will take effect. The board will vote on the proposal in June.
Minneapolis Public Schools' 2021-2022 proposed budget projects $890 million in revenue and $935 million in expenses and is balanced using money from the second round of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. The proposed budget does not include federal money coming to the district from the American Rescue Plan Act, which has not been awarded. Those additional funds can be added in with a board-approved budget amendment and could put next year's budget over $1 billion.
District leaders called the American Rescue Plan money a "once in a lifetime" occurrence for education funding but emphasized that it is not an ongoing source. Those funds will need to be spent by September 2024 and the recommendation is to think of it as a one-time investment to "build capacity" to meet student needs, said Superintendent Ed Graff.
"We know that these funds have an endpoint," he said. "We do not want to set ourselves up as an organization to have funding challenges beyond the life of this grant."
The proposed budget assumes predictable staffing in all schools and an estimated enrollment decline of 1,349 students. It includes $353 million for school-by-school allocations, down $22 million from the previous year. It also includes about $8 million carried over from the first two rounds of federal relief funds.
A five-year projection, presented to the school board in December, showed that the district's budget is likely to continue to be burdened by declining enrollment and rising costs that outpace revenue.
"Our analysis finds that, regardless of whether the [district redesign] succeeds, the district is burdened by an unsustainable fiscal structure," read the report.
By using the first two rounds of federal funds, Graff said the district can provide a stable transition for students during the implementation of the district redesign. If the trajectory of enrollment decline doesn't turn around, the district will have to adjust staffing levels, he said.
Priorities in the proposed general fund budget include increases in funding for mental health support and middle school athletics as well as money set aside to add additional social worker, psychologist, nurse and counselor positions.
Mara Klecker • 612-673-4440