Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

I thought Superintendent Graff said this deficit was getting cleared up last year. Why are we facing this again?

  • We made difficult one-time cuts last year, but didn’t change ongoing costs, so last year’s $16.5 million deficit will likely continue this year. The inflationary costs of annual salary increases will be an estimated $10 million. And then the increases in benefits are estimated to come in at around $7 million. Other inflationary costs are not yet included, so a $33 million deficit is projected not definite. It could go up or down.

How can I see the budget for my child's school?

How do you project the enrollment for the district?

  • We use a variety of indicators and are generally within about 2% of the actual overall district enrollment. Indicators include: enrollments over the past 10 years so that we can identify trends, demographic trends working with the state demographer, housing changes in the area, projected charter school openings and any other key developments in the city.

How does the enrollment decline now compare to that in the past?

  • The enrollment decline is actually slowing after a downward trend for the past five years. However, birth rates are down across the city. We generally estimate that MPS needs 3,000 new kindergartners per year to sustain programming, and we’ve been somewhat below that now for five years.
What did we spend Fund Balance money on for the past 10 years? 
  • At least some has been about funding a lack of fully funded education (Special Education and ELL). The district has also invested in Literacy curriculum, behavior specialists, class size reductions for high priority schools, a Grow Your Own program, math and reading specialists, Go To passes for high school students, support for small schools, and winter and spring break academies

I really didn’t like the choices that I had to make on the MPS Values Survey? Why did you compare the items that you compared?

  • Our researchers have factored into the survey more than 240 different response combinations. Each time someone takes the survey, they get a random combination of options from which to choose. When two different issues are juxtaposed against one another, not every respondent receives that same comparison. One respondent, for instance, may see a comparison of technology and mental health. That does not always occur. Through these random forced choices, our researchers can parse through the data to get at the heart of what our community values. If you look at the survey now, all the different choices are included at the end.

    These difficult decisions are the reality of the task before us. We are not deciding between good and bad programs, but deciding which of our many good programs we can continue to invest in. This survey is a perfect example of when we must “be comfortable with discomfort.” These are discussions that MPS should be having and we are gratified at the number of people who are taking part in this exercise.
How much money in the MPS budget goes directly to the services (usually Special Ed and Transportation) paid to charter schools? Why does this happen?
  • By state law, $21 million is paid for MPS special ed students who attend schools outside of MPS—whether charters, non-public schools or other districts. This service is mandated by state open enrollment laws. We don’t control the chargebacks to MPS; the fees are set by the IEP services determined by those non-MPS schools.
It is state law, but why is that a state law? Who or what is it meant to help?
  • Great question! Ask your legislators--that's what we're doing. Nationally, neither state nor federal government has ever reimbursed school districts for the full cost of the services we provide to our students who need them.

What is a "pro forma" budget?

  • A pro forma budget is essentially a preliminary estimate of what our budget would look like next year without any changes to the way we do business. The pro forma assumes we’ll offer the same programs, have the same staff count, and work within the constraints of the same contracts and grants. The only difference is an inflationary increase of around 2% in both revenues (which we know from the legislature) and expenses (which we know from experience).
  • A pro forma allows us to understand our financial reality if our school district’s structure were to remain the same. It provides us with a stepping-off point for budget discussions and decision-making. Taking our lead from the Board of Education, district leadership will make recommendations to this preliminary budget that will ultimately result in the budget the Board of Education votes on in June of 2018.

Updated 11/29/2017