The St. Cloud school district has come up with $5 million in options for budget reductions. The district wants to be prepared when it comes time to confront budget reductions in 2010-11. The plan includes layoffs of up to 55 teachers, 35 of which are from general education and 20 from special education. According to the St. Cloud Times, that would save the school district $2.3 million dollars and almost get the district to its $2.6 million goal. Other options include smaller staff layoffs, with 40 teachers to save $1.7 million and 24 teachers to save $1 million.
Because the school board decided to use one-time money, including stimulus funds, to avoid reductions in 2009-10, it pushes the majority of reductions to the next year. Another option to save money for the 2010-11 school year would be closing some schools. The plan includes an option to close Technical High School, a St. Cloud fixture on the south side since 1917, which would save almost $2 million. It would require moving grades 10-12 across town and putting grades seven through nine in junior high schools. Other options have been discussed as well, according to the St. Cloud Times.
The list provides options for spending down fund balance, reducing activities costs and reduction transportation options for secondary students. Each of those things are part of the commitments board members made when asking for support for the 2008 voter-approved tax increase. The teacher layoffs would violate levy promises as well.
St. Cloud is not the only school facing potential budget reductions that would violate commitments board members made in return for voter-approved tax increases. Many school districts are facing a similar problem, without an easy solution. According to board Chairman Jerry Van Korff, it would take a board decision to change commitments in order to implement those reductions.
Something needs to be done to put Minnesota back on top, but delaying aid to schools isn’t the way to do it. In districts like St. Cloud, schools are looking at their budgets to figure out how they will survive the next two years, instead of focusing on providing high quality education to the students in their districts. We need a Minnesota that thrives, something we’ve been talking about with a lot of local Minnesotan folks who are being effected by budget cuts and unallotment. Follow us on Twitter to see who we’re talking with and what they have to say about the irresponsible budget cuts that have threatened the greatness of our state. Check out pictures from the road at the Thrive Drive website.