Minneapolis school district proposes eliminating at least 200 staff positions

School buses
Some jobs will be slashed from the Minneapolis School District including music teachers, nurses and custodians to help reconcile a $110 million budget gap.
Elizabeth Shockman | MPR News

Music teachers, nurses, custodians, content experts, information technology workers, athletics, transportation and special education positions are all facing cuts in the Minneapolis Public Schools as the district faces a $110 million budget deficit.

District leaders have been outlining their plan to balance next year’s budget, and on Tuesday they detailed more closely at least 200 full-time job cuts as well as the elimination of some outside contracts and reductions that touch at least 20 departments. 

Some departments, like external relations, could see their budgets shrink by nearly 60 percent. Others, like student support services, could see cuts closer to 23 percent, with nearly 30 positions eliminated, including nurses and counselors, and the shifting of other positions to other parts of the district’s budget. 

District leaders say they hope to close the gap while maintaining current class sizes at sites where more than 70 percent of the students are from low-income homes and not cutting programs intended to help students of color.

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The state’s fourth largest district has seen its enrollment drop by some 20,000 students since 2000-01, driven largely by open enrollment and a fall in the city’s school-age population.

News of the prospective cuts come as the teachers union and district continue to negotiate a contract deal. The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers is currently in mediation with the district and is set for another meeting on April 22. 

On Wednesday morning, members of four of the district’s labor unions pushed back against the district’s claim that budget cuts “to the learning environment” are necessary. They said the district overspends on outside contracts compared to other districts and noted a recent influx of students.

District leaders say that if contract settlements cost more than currently budgeted, it may require deeper budget cuts or a further withdrawal from the fund balance, leading to a drop in credit ratings and hike in borrowing costs. 

Recommendations will be presented to the full board next week and final approval of the budget by the board will happen in June.

In recent school board meetings, Minneapolis’ chief financial officer has advised the board to use its fund balance as a one-time measure to get the district through the next school year and spend the next 12 months planning how to match staff and school buildings to the actual number of students enrolled.