Budget Letter (Updated Feb. 26)
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Budget Message from Superintendent Ed Graff

Budget Message from Superintendent Ed Graff

Feb. 26, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

Principals and department heads last week received their 2018-2019 budgets and we will be working together over the next few weeks to finalize these budgets and plan for the next school year. 

This year will serve as a bridge to financial sustainability in future years through significant reductions and re-prioritizing that will be felt throughout our school district. We will all need to work smarter and harder over the next year to meet our professional goals with fewer resources, with the acknowledgment that this is not the first time you have been asked to do this. In some cases, you will need to work with your supervisor to adjust professional goals to reflect a leaner staff. Reductions in scope and service can be expected in many central office departments. I encourage each of us to assume good intentions, prioritize well, communicate directly, and focus on student learning.

I want to draw your attention to some important elements of next year’s budget:

1.      Both departments and schools will move forward without increases for salaries and benefits, even though salaries and benefits will increase. Budgets will have to be reduced to meet staffing requirements with currently available resources.

●       In addition to reductions related to staffing cost increases, most department budgets are reduced between 5%-20%.

●       With staffing cost increases and redistribution of other funds, schools will likely experience a 2.5%-3% reduction in funding.

●       For nine schools where these mandatory reductions will make it difficult to meet basic operational requirements, subsidies will be provided this year.

●       In an effort to maintain at least current maintenance standards, Operations was held harmless from budget reductions except for absorbing staffing cost increases.

2.      The District will meet 100% of English Learner (EL) expenses in schools by holding back a larger portion of Compensatory Funds for that purpose. That will result in less unrestricted Compensatory Funding available to schools overall, but more funding to schools for EL services. This is an example of prioritizing our investments to support our core District values.

3.      To provide more funding to students most in need, schools with free- and reduced-price lunch enrollment of at least 40% will be eligible for Title I funds – changed from 35% last year. In addition, schools with more than 80% free- and reduced-price lunch enrollment will receive extra dollars per student.

4.      Class size targets have been adjusted to reflect very precise, targeted additions of one student to classrooms where that addition kept those classes within approved class size ranges.

5.      A phone service (Language Line) that schools use to access up to more than 200 languages for urgent or emergency situations will continue to be funded centrally and not charged back to schools. Schools are also encouraged to use staff support at your school for the most-common languages in your school in order to reduce overall costs for Language Line. 

6.      Funding for professional development across the district has been reduced in anticipation of significant reductions (or even a complete elimination) of Title II funding from the federal government. In addition, MPS is modifying its professional development delivery model to incorporate more personalized learning options.

7.      Funding for additional class time (allotted in the past to accommodate seven class periods) has been removed from middle and high school budgets. Schools will need to either reduce the number of daily class periods or work with their associate superintendent to schedule another alternative. In some cases, this may result in the need for fewer classroom teachers.

8.      Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) placements should be prioritized for direct supports to students. School-based TOSA placements should:

●       Focus on core content

●       Be aligned to MTSS

●       Support the development of teacher capacity, as well as provide direct supports to students

●       Be partial- versus full-release positions (when scheduling permits) to ensure high-quality teachers continue to provide direct instruction to students

9.         Discretionary funds formerly available through the Chief of Academics, Learning and Leadership will no longer be available. These funds were accessed for unexpected school-based needs.

While MPS’s budget reductions are getting the most attention, please know that we are also prioritizing dollars to help implement our four core priorities with fidelity. We have specifically allocated funding to build out our secondary literacy plan, bring on new cohorts for SEL implementation, and broaden our professional development offerings while changing our model to be less people-intensive and retaining funding for things that we know are important to students – like accelerated learning.

Once our budgets for next year have been finalized, we must begin moving forward to begin discussions with our community about how to create lasting change in the way we do business in Minneapolis Public Schools. We must be good stewards of the dollars with which the community has entrusted us – and we will be. Our staff, students and families deserve nothing less.

Thank you for your commitment.

Ed Graff