From the Superintendent: Keeping Students at the Center While Facing Budget Challenges

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Colleagues:

You likely are aware by now that our district faces a $15.1 million budget shortfall for the coming school year. You also know there’s no quick fix for a deficit of this size. The challenge facing all of us is how to make the smallest possible impact on our students as we balance revenue and expense.

This weekend schools received their proposed budgets for next year. These are due back to the finance office on April 29 in order to meet the May 1 requirement to notify personnel of any staff adjustments. You can learn more about the budget process by visiting the business office website.

Many of our funds are tied to state or federal legislation such as Title One, so we face limitations to what we can adjust and still provide the services people in Saint Paul have come to expect. Everything we do is connected to the service of students, staff and families, so any reduction made will have an impact to those we serve.

At last week’s Committee of the Board meeting, Chief Financial Officer Marie Schrul presented a budget with the following proposed cost savings measures:

  • Eliminating the proposed 2017 contribution to Other Post Employment Benefits ($1.0 million)
  • No annual inflationary increases for departments ($4.1 million)
  • Eliminating elementary, PreK-8 and 6-8 job-embedded professional development ($7.5 million)
  • Targeted departmental and central administration staff adjustments ($2.7 million)
  • Offering an Early Retirement Incentive ($2.5 million)

One of the largest areas of impact is the proposed elimination of job-embedded professional development at elementary, PreK-8 and 6-8 schools. This does NOT include schools labeled Priority Schools as defined by the Minnesota Department of Education. This proposal was not made lightly as it will alter the daily structure of the impacted schools.

Job-embedded professional development has been unique to Saint Paul Public Schools and offered great flexibility for buildings -- flexibility that many other districts lacked. PLCs remain an integral component of our professional development work and are not going away. Planning support will be provided to principals when determining the best PLC structure to meet their building’s needs.

I know that talk of budgets can bring anxiety and uneasiness. It is my least favorite part of working in education. I urge you to take care of yourselves in this last stretch of the year as administrators, the Board of Education, teachers, families and community members strive to make the best of yet another tough budgeting situation.

Sincerely,

Silva Signature

 

Valeria S. Silva