SPPS school budget referendum

By: Vivian S

This year, the St. Paul Public School District has placed on the ballot a referendum on raising the property tax levy to increase the district’s budget. The referendum will increase the amount of money the district receives per pupil from $704.52 to $1179.52. The estimated tax impact on an average homeowner would be $11 more per month.

If voters approve the referendum, the money will be used to: boost achievement, improve mental health, foster social-emotional learning, and help middle schools better prepare kids for high school. It will limit additional budget cuts. The district has already cut more than $50 million over the past three years.

If voters do not pass the referendum, the district might have to: cut programs for students that need help with basic academic skills, cut staff and other programs, and cut support staff (custodial, clerical, etc.). Most likely, they would start by cutting the electives and after-school programs.

SPPS has a strategic plan they wish to implement: they want to help English Language Learners more, assist students receiving special education, improve kindergarten readiness, help students grow academically in reading and math, and prepare everyone for college and life. They also wish to decrease the disparity of achievement based on race, culture, ethnicity, and identity.

SPPS is currently facing a $17.2 million budget shortfall, and they are not alone in their budget troubles. Minneapolis Public Schools are also trying to push through their own referendum for similar reasons. Up to now, no agreement has been made on how to handle the shortfall. One thing is clear, though: our schools need more money to operate.

SPPS, although the second largest school district in Minnesota, receives about $320 per student less than the metro district average. SPPS says they need this referendum because the state, which provides the majority of school funding, has not kept up with inflation and the needs of schools, which has put strain on the operating budget and caused the school system to rely on operating levies for many critical functions. The second largest amount of money that schools receive is from local communities, through operating levies like this one.

SPPS maintains they spend money wisely: they spend less on district administration and more on classrooms. Schools are an important part of many childrens’ lives, and the school system needs more money to give them the best education.

For more information about this topic, please visit:

https://www.spps.org/referendum2018

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