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Minneapolis, MN: District faces deficit; $57M spending on SPED

Dec 11, 2019, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minneapolis schools back in a big budget hole with a $19.6 million deficit District officials point to declining enrollment and revenue that hasn't kept up with inflation and rising costs. The Minneapolis school district is back in a deep and familiar hole: It’s facing a $19.6 million budget deficit for the 2020-21 school year. District leaders are attributing the projected gap largely to declining enrollment and revenue that hasn’t kept up with inflation and rising operating costs. The gap would have been $32 million, but district leaders pulled $8 million from budget reserves. Money can be pulled from the reserves without board approval, according to district officials. Another $4 million came from money set aside to replenish the district’s rainy-day fund. … This new shortfall comes after a $30 million voter-approved property tax increase in November 2018 for new technology and other district expenses. District officials are blaming the state and federal governments for not spending enough on local public schools. Minneapolis Superintendent Ed Graff noted at a district finance committee meeting last month that his district has been forced to spend $57 million on special education services and up to $12 million to help serve English language learners, costs he says the state and federal government should be paying more for…. Diop said he cannot prevent a budget gap if the district keeps losing students and overspending. As of Oct. 1, preliminary enrollment data shows that enrollment in Minneapolis Public Schools was at 33,380, the lowest number in years. In November, Graff released a five-year forecast showing the fiscal health of the district based on enrollment trends and expected changes in revenue and expenses. Even after a balanced budget which takes into account a 2% increase in per-pupil state funding, district spending will outpace revenue, driven partly by enrollment losses and higher labor costs. …

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