Capitol budget plans will force classroom cuts, school leaders warn

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Mary Cecconi
Mary Cecconi, legislative director at Parents United for Public Schools, called on lawmakers to increase funding for education during a news conference in St. Paul, May 4, 2015.
Tim Post | MPR News

Minnesota school administrators say they'll cut teachers and programs over the next two years if lawmakers don't set aside more money for education funding.

The Senate's plan would increase per pupil funding by 1 percent in each of the next two years. The House would increase funding less than 1 percent.

Schools say they need a nearly 3 percent increase just to keep up with inflation.

"If either target is passed, or even a compromise is made between the two, we will be cutting," said Ann Hobbie, project manager for the advocacy group Parents United for Public Schools.

Hobbie stood Monday with parents, teachers and school administrators, calling on lawmakers to use more of the state's $2 billion surplus to increase education funding.

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed spending $695 million of the surplus on education in part to fund free preschool for all of Minnesota's 4-year-olds.

The House wants to set aside $157 million of the surplus for education, the Senate's plan uses $365 million.

Ed Harris, superintendent of the Chatfield school district, says he'll need to make budget cuts if lawmakers don't use enough of the surplus to increase school funding.

"That means we're spending reserve funds as well as preparing to cut next year's budget by $200,000 and another $200,000 the year after that," he said.

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