Rochester Public School Board gives update on budget cuts

Rochester Public School Board gives update on budget cuts
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 10:13 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Minnesota’s deadline for school districts to approve its budget is quickly approaching on July 1.

Tuesday evening, the Rochester School Board gave an update on what its budget is looking like for the 2023-24 school year after it previously announced some big cuts in early 2023. When the cuts were first announced, many worried about potential jobs that could be lost and what the next school year would look like.

“This is an incredibly difficult process because we are right sizing the district in terms of our staff to our number of students but we’re doing it in a very strategic way that I hope is also compassionate for some of the positions that are being eliminated,” superintendent Pekel said.

140 full time positions have been cut from the general fund, but less that 10 full time employees will not have a position next school year.

“That still doesn’t make it easy because if you loved your job teaching third grade in this school and that job as cut and you move somewhere else, that’s still a big deal but we are glad most people are staying with us in Rochester,” Pekel added.

The board also waited for Minnesota’s legislative session to wrap up before finalizing the budget’s details as more information about possible funding and requirements were expected.

“Half of the unfunded mandate for special education and English language learner services are now available to us for the immediate next couple of years, so we will have to take less from the money generated by all kids to cover those mandated specialized services,” Pekel said.

Almost all the districts’ expenditures have been reduced by 5%, but most students and staff will not be severely impacted by the cuts, and the board has made sure of it.

“From my perspectives there are some very exciting initiatives, some really great work on the horizon here that I am just excited about,” director Justin Cook said.

The board will revisit the budget on June 6th.