On March 1, principals in Minneapolis Public Schools were told the district plans to cut at least $110 million from its budget in a memo from Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams.

“This is the largest budget gap MPS has ever seen, at least $110 million without taking into account contract settlements with the collective bargaining groups we are currently negotiating with. Budgets may have to be reopened as settlements are reached,” the memo reads.

In a second memo, principals were told the budget portal they use is restricted to just principals and assistant principals until Tuesday so that principals can notify staff whose positions have been eliminated. An email will be sent to all staff on Monday afternoon explaining the general “buckets” where cuts have been made.

The Minneapolis Public Schools community is familiar with the disruption of reopening budgets, or making additional cuts after school and administrative department budgets have been settled. After the March 2022 strike by teachers and ESPs, the district re-opened budgets because of the cost of the new contracts.

The reductions in school funding will inevitably lead to a reduction of school staff. However, principals will ultimately make the decision about where the cuts will be made at each school. If teacher positions are eliminated, it is unclear if the district will choose to implement the  contract language protecting teachers from underrepresented groups outside of seniority order.

This contract language was added during contract negotiations in 2022. According to the district, this contract language hasn’t been put into use yet and has not reported publicly whether or not it will “operationalize” the contract language this year.  

“MPS has not operationalized the underrepresented population provision of Article 15.2.5.b,” Karina Magistad, director of data practices & records management said in response to a data request about teachers protected outside of seniority order. ”Meaning that no teacher who is not a member of an underrepresented population has been excessed instead of a less senior teacher who is a member of an underrepresented population.”

The proposed cuts at schools, which were summarized in slides presented to principals, include:

  • the elimination of funding for eight assistant principals at high-poverty schools
  • the elimination of funding for instrumental music for all fifth grade students, which was added as part of the Comprehensive District Design plan that reorganized the district back in 2021
  • the reallocation of half of Title I funding from school budgets to fund intervention triad positions at Title I schools. The triads provide extra instruction for students below grade level in math or reading.
  • the elimination of State achievement and integration funding from magnet school budgets
  • a 50% reduction in funding for AVID, a middle and high school program that prepares students for college
  • elimination of funding for some instructional coaches for teachers, called TOSAs
  • a 20% reduction to compensatory revenue allocated to schools, which was reallocated to fund additional support for English language learners
  • an increase in class sizes at some high poverty schools, most of which have smaller class sizes today
  • an increase in class sizes at low poverty schools, defined as those with <70% of students who qualify for free or reduced priced meals under federal guidelines

The cuts appear to spare at least some of the intervention triad positions and media specialists added to schools last year. Funding for teachers to provide direct instruction to students who qualify as “gifted and talented” will also continue.

The district hasn’t conducted an equity assessment of the impact of the proposed cuts. Many of the cuts appear to be at district schools serving the most low income students and students of color. For example, all magnet schools are Title I schools, meaning 40% or more of the students qualify for free and reduced priced meals under federal guidelines.

Sayles-Adams concluded the memo to principals saying, “We all have a responsibility and a duty to prioritize student needs in order to ensure that they are receiving the high quality education that they deserve.”

The school board’s finance committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday for its first review of school budgets. The agenda and meeting materials have not been posted yet. Typically, the finance committee receives a spreadsheet showing allocations for each school by the type of funding, an estimate of enrollment for the next school year and an estimate of the percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced price lunch.

Budgets for administrative departments will be shared with supervisors on March 4.

This is a developing story and we will report additional information as it is available.