MPS releases updated budget cuts

Minneapolis Public Schools

Minneapolis Superintendent Ed Graff released updated budget cuts for the 2018-19 school year on Friday, after the School Board voted April 10 to restore more than $6 million in cuts to middle and high schools.

Graff’s team cut more than $4.8 million from the district’s central office, including over $1.5 million from its human resources department, nearly $670,000 from its academics department and $610,000 from its information technology department. It also cut $567,065 from the operations division, $496,895 from the athletics department, $440,000 from the transportation department and $304,462 from the general counsel’s office.

The district also increased its revenue projects by $1.55 million, saying it expects to receive a $500,000 tax-credit rebate and assuming it will receive $1.05 million because of proposed legislation.

“The implications of these reductions are wide-ranging, but with an eye to limiting service reductions as much as possible,” Graff wrote in a letter. “Nevertheless, with this round of additional central office reductions service delivery to schools, staff, families and community may not be as efficient and effective.”

The released of the updated cuts came 10 days after the 5-4 vote by the School Board to restore the time-adjustment funding for middle and high schools. The district distributes that money to middle and high schools on a per pupil basis to add time to the school day. Graff and his team had cut it as part of their plan for ending a projected $33 million budget deficit for 2018-19.

Supporters of the resolution said before its passage that middle and high schools faced disproportionate budget cuts that would leave some schools unable to operate. Opponents said it would be a continuance of poor budgeting practices and could jeopardize other district programs and services, such as athletics and the Office of Black Male Student Achievement.

The School Board’s resolution did not allow the district to make additional cuts to schools or lower its reserve funds beyond current levels, meaning the cuts had to come out of the district’s central office.

Graff wrote in his letter that he and his team stand by their initial budget recommendations, which he said they arrived at using an equity lens while considering structural changes necessary to create stability. He wrote that they maintained a commitment to the district priorities of equity, social-emotional learning, literacy and multi-tiered systems of support in identifying the additional cuts, despite a short timeline.

He said the district’s goal is to present a balanced budget resolution to the School Board Finance Committee on Thursday so that the School Board can vote on the budget in June. Any further budget changes would create “multiple challenges for employees and departments and put at risk finalizing our budget by the legally required June 30 deadline,” Graff wrote.

As part of the changes, the district decided to reduce athletic director positions, eliminate its Office of Innovation and its expulsion office, delay the replacement of technology and move middle school athletics to its community education budget. Other changes include cutting the budget for attendance management, reducing security at the Davis Service Center, allocating no additional money for landscaping and reducing the number of subcontracted bus routes.