Mar 5, 2024 - News

Survey: Budget shortfalls loom for two-thirds of Twin Cities school districts

Data: Association of Metropolitan School Districts. Note: Data self-reported; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Association of Metropolitan School Districts. Note: Data self-reported; Chart: Axios Visuals

Nearly two-thirds of Twin Cities school districts project budget shortfalls in the coming year, according to a recent survey.

Why it matters: The bleak numbers suggest some of the metro's largest school districts could lay off staff or cut programs to avoid budget deficits next year. The hard financial math could also make it harder to resolve teacher contract disputes.

The big picture: The Association of Metropolitan School Districts — which conducted the survey — reports rising wages and cost inflation have canceled out some of the benefits from last year's record increase in state school funding.

What they're saying: "We're at somewhat of a crossroads, especially in this budget," superintendent Joe Gothard recently said of the district's projected $107 million shortfall.

The other side: Teachers union leaders view these figures with a healthy dose of skepticism, saying school districts often inflate deficit projections as a negotiating tactic.

Zoom in: Among other cost-saving measures, Minneapolis Schools Voices reports the school district is considering cutting assistant principal positions at eight low-income schools, eliminating all fifth grade instrumental music, and raising class sizes.

By the numbers: Out of 45 metro school districts surveyed, 29 foresee a shortfall in the 2024-25 school year.

  • Twenty-two of those districts predict deficits of $1 million or more.
  • In addition to those 45 districts, Rochester Public Schools forecasts a $9.2 million shortfall. Duluth's district projects a $6 million deficit.
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