Minnesota schools continue to be financially crushed well beyond the current economic crisis. After years of state neglect, schools are shedding teachers and programs at an alarming rate.
Consider these planned cuts for the 2009-10 school year:
These cuts come as no surprise. The state has been cutting back on education investment for years, leaving overburdened property taxpayers to make up the difference. From 2003 to 2009, state aid to school districts fell by 13.9 percent. In response, school districts reluctantly asked for property tax increases of an average of 122 percent. Because the real per pupil levy increase is smaller than the aid reduction, total school district operating revenue has fallen 5.2 percent over the last six years.
Consider the small Westbrook-Walnut Grove school district. Because of state underfunding, it receives 5.7 percent less per student less than it did in 2003. The result is years of cutbacks
For the 2009-10 school year, the district is looking to shave $230,000 from its budget by sharing superintendent duties with another district, cutting two full time employees from the business office, cutting one K-6 teacher and one 7-12 teacher, cutting cross country coaches, partially cutting special education, music, and community education positions, and cutting three paraprofessionals.
Consider the growing Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose school district. It has seen a per-student drop in income of nearly 7 percent since 2003.
The Jan. 26 school board meeting was packed with parents and students who didn