Minneapolis schools approve
$637 million budget
by Steve Brandt, 27 June 2006
budget is down 1 percent overall, to $637 million, and the operating budget, which finances classroom spending, is $414 million.
The budget foresees almost 2,000 fewer students and the closing of Putnam and Webster schools.
The district has told
307 teachers that they won't return next year, down from 546 a year ago. But last year it was able to hire back two-thirds
of the more-experienced tenured teachers who make up a majority of those laid off.
by Doug Mann]
At the board meeting last night I noted that amount of money in the 2006-2007 budget is very close to
what it was in 2001-2002 (five years ago). However, compared to five years ago, the projected student enrollment is down 24%
(from about 46,000 to 35,000), and the number of full time teacher positions covered in the budget for regular education is
down by more than 50% (from 1663.2 to 819.6).
According to a story published 27 June 2006 in the Star-Tribune, "Report
tracks school spending" by James Walsh, "Since 2001, Minnesota's overall K-12 enrollment has fallen 2.3 percent. But per-pupil
education spending has climbed an average of 16 percent -- 6.7 percent after adjusting for inflation." Per pupil expenses
for the Minneapolis School District have increased about 30 percent in the past 5 years.
At last night's board meeting
I also noted that the district is saving tens of millions of dollars each year in teacher payroll costs by sending layoff
notices to 3 to 4 times more teachers than actually need to be laid off. That drives up turnover rates for low seniority teachers,
who are heavily concentrated in schools in which low-income and minority students are over-represented. This practice is doing
considerable damage to programs that serve a majority of the district's students, and helps to perpetuate and increase the
so-called racial learning gap.
Because of its disparate effect on students of color, the practice of sending layoff
notices to many teachers who don't need to be laid off is a violation of the Minnesota Desegregation Rule, which is based
on the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the US constitution, federal case law, and the education clause in
Minnesota's constitution. Where's the NAACP when students of color need it?
The district is also exceeding its authority
to lay off teachers under the Minnesota Teacher Tenure Act. A teacher's employment may be terminated for misconduct, poor
performance, or because of a need to eliminate teaching positions related to declining enrollment and / or budget cuts. Last
evening a teacher employed with the district for seven years reported having received a layoff notice.
Given the fact
that the district is planning to cut about 100 full time teacher positions and sent layoff notices to about 140 probationary
teachers, it is unlikely that the district really needed to lay off all of its probationary teachers and more than a handful
of tenured teachers who hold positions being eliminated and whose employment can't be saved via a realignment process. The
reason why the district hired back about two-thirds of the tenured teachers laid off laid year, and not more like 90 to 100%
is because many of the tenured teachers who got layoff notices last year found other jobs.