St. Paul school budget: new investments but fewer students and teachers

The St. Paul school board is preparing to adopt a $579 million budget next week that will make a long list of strategic investments while cutting dozens of classroom positions.

The district expects to lose 513 K-12 students compared with last year’s budget, continuing a several-year trend that’s coincided with the growth of competing charter schools.

With fewer students, the district plans to eliminate 27 jobs for teachers and 31 for educational and teaching assistants. However, there are 297 vacancies for those positions, so while some will have to change schools, no one should be out of a job.

A decrease in students signing up for free and reduced-price lunches will cost the district around $5.5 million in classroom funding tied to that number. Declining enrollment should cost another $6.9 million.

On the other hand, city voters approved a property tax increase in November that will boost revenues by around $17.3 million next year. Most of that new money will be consumed by inflationary cost increases and contractual obligations.

Still, there are several millions in new spending on the first year of Superintendent Joe Gothard’s strategic plan, including:

  • $3.2 million for 28 learning leads to train staff at the district’s poorest schools on elements of the district’s new strategic plan.
  • $2.5 million in new staff to enable middle schools to return to a seven-period day, a few years after dropping to six.
  • $2.5 million for counselors, work-based learning coordinators and others to help students prepare for college and careers.
  • $2.1 million for 16 additional teachers and a counselor for multilingual learners, plus training on how to teach those students.
  • $850,000 to mentor early-career teachers.
  • $810,000 in new staff and survey tools to improve school climate.
  • $350,000 in added busing costs to open the new E-STEM Middle School in Woodbury.

During a Tuesday evening meeting, school board members sounded satisfied with the general fund budget, which is $32 million larger than last school year’s. They’ll vote to adopt the plan June 18.


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