Rochester Public School District proposes job cuts in new budget

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:46 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Rochester Public School Board proposed big budget cuts Tuesday night in its study sessions, which includes some teaching positions.

The board is looking to cut the budget by $14 million.

The original target was to cut the budget by $7 million. Superintendent Kent Pekel said the cuts that must be made to create a balanced budget are higher due to contract settlements with teacher unions being made at higher rates than the district agreed to years ago.

According to Pekel, the district has increased staff at a higher rate than enrollment. Data from the district shows staff has increased by 26.8% over the past decade and enrollment has increased by 7%.

“When you look back, and this isn’t Rochester schools specific, when you look back at Destination Medical Center, the presumption was for many for parents with school-age children moving into Rochester,” Pekel said. “That’s not happening,”

Pekel said state and federal funding for Pre-K to 12 education hasn’t kept up with inflation. Pekel said cutting the jobs would save the district more than $7 million.

He also proposed cutting other clerical and school nurses, maintenance staff and 42 paraprofessionals.

In the plan, Pekel proposes using $7.4 million in federal COVID-19 funding to maintain some student services.

Other proposed parameters include delaying $1.2 million in sick time severance savings account, and using $200,000 from the district’s fund balance. Pekel said all retirees will still receive full benefits despite the temporary pause in contributions.

It also proposes an $80,000 delay in health savings account, but all retirees will still receive full benefits during the temporary pause.

The board is set to vote on the budget at the next meeting on Feb. 7.

Find the entire budget here.