RPS to cut $10 million from 2024-2025 budget following failed referendum

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 10:57 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Speaking publicly for the first time since election night, Rochester Public Schools announced the need to cut $10 million from its school budget for the 2024-2025 academic year.

“My main message is this: if Rochester wants to provide all its young people with the caliber of education that will enable them to succeed in the economy and in society in which they will live their lives, additional funding for our school district is urgent and essential,” said RPS Superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel.

Pekel shared a statement to begin Tuesday night’s meeting where he addressed the failed referendum and how the district plans to move forward.

These cuts would follow a series of cuts already made by the school district. Over the last two academic years, RPS has had to cut more than $20 million from its annual budgets.

Several taxpayers chimed in during the public comment period, voicing support for the referendum in spite of its failure.

“I think people fail to realize that at the same time they are getting more pinched, the organizations that those taxes support are also getting more pinched and need the money to pay the school districts a livable wage, for example,” said Rochester Resident Carol Shaffer.

Tuesday, November 7th, Rochester voters rejected the school’s tax levy question, asking the voters for $10.15 million annually for 10 years. If approved, the money would’ve seen $7 million freed up from the general fund being used for technology, as well as an additional $3 million per year to maximize technology use and support the financial plan.

11,248 (50.72%) people voted no while 10,930 (49.28%) voted yes for the measure.