The school year has just begun, but a new survey is already painting a bleak picture for district budgets for next year. An association of metro school districtssurveyed its members -- 33 districts in all -- and found they laid off a combined 1,700 people during the past two years.
Those districts already face a combined budget deficit of $187 million for the 2011-2012 school year, and that's assuming state funding stays flat. The Minneapolis district faces a $35 million deficit; St. Paul and Rosemount are both at about $23 million.
The association's Scott Croonquist said many of this year's cuts included one-time budget moves that won't be an option next year.
"If there were easy solutions, which I don't know that there ever were, those have already been used," Croonquist said. "Looking forward, the cuts are going to be even more difficult and the impact even more severe on our educational programs."
Croonquist said the deficits are the result of flat state funding at a time that costs to districts like salaries and health insurance keep rising.