Questions About Recommended Budget Reductions

Questions About Recommended Budget Reductions

Questions About Recommended Budget Reductions

Doesn’t MPS already go to school 11 days longer than the legal requirement?

The MPS calendar currently includes 176 of school days, though the state only requires 165. MPS added several days a few years back anticipating increased academic results. That has not occurred, yet the cost of those additional days is significant (approximately $1 million per day). MPS is working with MFT for flexibility in the number of school days in its calendar for the 2018-19 school year. The district has already moved up the last day of school for students during this school year to June 8, from June 12.

I see that even if you implement all your recommended budget reductions, you’ll still have a $6 million gap. How to do you propose to close that gap?

More than 80% of the MPS budget is dedicated to paying the almost 7,000 MPS employees. MPS leadership has worked hard to identify cost-reducing options that do not eliminate jobs. Once those options have been exhausted, layoffs are the only remaining possibilities.

You’re saying that Title II funding from the federal government could be cut. What does Title II funding pay for?

Title II is a federal formula allowance intended specifically for professional development. We use it to support teacher training and related services, so while it doesn’t impact classrooms directly, the teacher trainings it funds impact student learning.

Why would you change some bus routes this year, then make more changes again next year?

Changes recommended for this year maximize alignment, but also savings. We can save $2 million this year, which is a significant savings in a year when we need to cut costs by $33 million. We could not, however, institute full-scale change at all schools without providing families with at least a year’s notice. So we made the maximum changes we could make with the littlest possible change in schedules (most are under 60 minutes). Additional changes will likely result from the Comprehensive Districtwide Assessment, which is being researched now and will deeply examine alignments around transportation, school boundaries, school programs and more.

Won’t changing bell times shorten the school day for some schools?

Days will be shortened only for middle schools, and this is related to the another budget reduction recommendation -- time allocation. Just two years ago, middle and high schools were offered additional time to make it easier to offer seven period days and more electives. While this was an option some schools enjoyed, it comes at a cost of $6 million. Schools who want to offer seven periods still can through other scheduling mechanisms.

Will teachers be laid off because of the reduction in time allocation to schools?

Yes, possibly. Every school’s needs will be different. If a school does not now offer seven periods, they may need fewer teachers at their school. In some cases, teachers will be moved to other assignments. In other cases, they may be laid off.

How can you talk about raising class size when we voted for a referendum to maintain class size?

You are correct that the 2016 referendum did, in fact, focus on class size. A class size target was not, however, included in that referendum. Instead, the funds from that referendum are to be used to “manage class size,” which is also the focus of this year’s reduction recommendations. MPS is not recommending an across-the-district increase, but instead targeted, focused increases of one student in classes where those classes will still be within class size targets. Stakeholders should know that class size will be affected in almost any scenario related to solving for MPS’s budget deficit. If we increase class sizes minimally and in a very targeted, almost surgical way (by one student only where class sizes will still be under targets), class sizes are affected. On the other hand, if we are forced to lay off significant numbers of teachers due to insufficient funding, class sizes will be affected in ways that we cannot now predict. We have more control with the former.

Won’t the new referendum or technology thing I’m hearing about fix the budget problem? Why don’t you use that money instead of raising class sizes or changing school start times?

Proposed referendum dollars won’t reach MPS until the 2019-2020 school year. Our $33 million budget deficit impacts the 2018-2019 school year and must be addressed during the current budget process.

I’ve heard a lot of your budget suggestions, like changing from a seven period day to a size period day or raising class sizes, are actually about cutting people. Is that true?

MPS worked very hard to recommend budget reductions that minimize the need to layoff staff. Reducing the time allocations to schools, however, may very well result in layoffs in some schools. Every school’s needs will be different. Some schools may have other positions for those teachers and other schools may end up laying off those teachers.

Staff reductions are likely no matter what reductions are taken given the fact that MPS has recommended $27 million in budget reductions, but its budget deficit is $33 million. That leaves another $6 million that will need to be found, and staff reductions are the most likely source.