Superintendent Carol Johnson unveils budget-cutting proposal
At an emotional School Board meeting last week, Superintendent Carol Johnson unveiled her proposal to
cut more than $30 million from an already lean district budget for the 2002-2003 school year.
Eliminating after-school athletic buses, freezing salary increases for all district staff - including teachers - and reducing school choice flexibility are just some of the options on the chopping block.
The proposed cuts, which the School Board is scheduled to vote on at its Feb. 26 meeting, include 203 classroom teaching positions and at least 70 district staff positions.
Johnson proposed increasing to the referendum level 3rd grade class sizes - which currently are well below the one-teacher-per-25 students referendum ratio - however, she decided not to increase class size for other grades by one student, an option that would have saved the district $4 million.
"We made a commitment to the citizens of Minneapolis, and I am not comfortable going back on that commitment at this time," Johnson said. "In addition, smaller class sizes have made a difference in achievement, time on task and behavior improvement for many of our students."
Johnson's proposal also opts against cutting transportation for all high school students, which would have saved the district almost $3 million; instead, it suggests increasing the walking distance for high school students from 1.5 to 2 miles - a saving of $250,000.
A further savings on transportation costs will be gained by more strictly enforcing attendance-area boundaries. Johnson estimated a savings of $2.3 million by returning approximately 4,000 students currently attending school outside their designated attendance area to their area community or magnet schools. However, students whose parents are able to provide transportation, or those who attend citywide magnets, would not have to change schools.
David Jennings, the district's chief operating officer, said that he felt uncertain that $30 million in budget cuts would even cover the potential shortfall. He told the School Board that it should look at even more reduction options in the days and weeks ahead to come up with another $5 million in cuts.
Johnson remarked how sad it was to be confronted with the potential reductions.
"Behind these numbers," she said, fighting back tears, "there are real people."
Option and Proposed Reduction 1 Restructure and/or reduce district support services = 6,500,000 2 Freeze wages for all staff, including teachers = 3,700,000 3 Increase 3rd-grade class size to the referendum level = 3,200,000 4 Reduce school per capita funding = 2,500,000 5 Enforce attendance-area boundaries = 2,300,000 6 Further reduce choice by area of the city = 1,600,000 7 Eliminate district support of all-day kindergarten = 1,000,000R8 Reduce elementary classroom staffing = 1,000,000 9 Change staffing of citywide special education = 1,000,000 10 No increase in reserve fund balance = 1,000,000 11 Reduce staff at district alternative schools = 900,000 12 Eliminate or reduce sabbaticals = 900,000 13 Reduce class-size teacher allocations for special education. = 600,000 14 Eliminate school administrative positions = 500,000 15 Eliminate buses for after-school athletics = 450,000 16 Increase fees for athletic programs based on a sliding scale = 300,000 17 Increase walking distance for high school students to 2 miles = 250,000 18 Eliminate additional leases 100,000 19 Increase class size by one student 0 20 Eliminate transportation of high school students 0 21 Eliminate school impact aid (for low poverty schools) 0 22 Reduce referendum support for Readiness Collaboratives 0 23 Reduce teacher professional development 0