Parent Comments at the School Board
Monday, April 20, 2015 6:10 AM


Here are a couple comments made by parents at a recent school board meeting:

Comment 1:

I am here tonight to follow up on a letter our PTA and Site Council sent to district leaders in March regarding our budget shortfall.

The shortfall is largely due to inaccurate fall enrollment projections. Our current attendance is 541 at the Lower Campus, but the district estimated only 505 will return in the fall. Based on historical data (see handout), this projection makes no sense. The reality is that over the past 5 year years, our school attendance from fall to spring has typically increased, not decreased. In fact, for next fall, we already have a waiting list of 13 kids, grades k-3, who live in the attendance zone.

Underestimating our enrollment in this way means that about 36 kids at our school are essentially getting ZERO pupil dollars in this budget. This is absolutely unacceptable!

Our school historically hasn’t been able to fund positions such as a test coordinator, a family liaison or a middle school counselor. Our principals already are spread thin covering these roles. Now, with these budget numbers, we cannot fully fund the nurses who are required for our City-Wide Developmental cognitive Disabilities (DCD) program that serves medically fragile children, we will have to lay off AEs and cut back on our school psychologist hours, and we don’t have enough money for basic supplies. These staffing shortages create unsafe conditions for our students.

Furthermore, as we look ahead to “Student Based Allocation” next year, if we can’t trust the district to accurately account for all our students now, then how can we have faith in the new SBA system that is scheduled to roll out next March?

We need our students to be COUNTED and FUNDED! We want our budget to be corrected this spring, not simply tweaked next fall when it will be too little, too late.

Thank you.

Comment 2:

I have been increasingly concerned with the trends I am seeing in funding schools in SW Minneapolis, especially with the proposed changes planned in Student Based Allocations.

$6,300 per pupil ($3.14 million divided by 504).  That’s about the funding that is planned for next year for Lake Harriet Lower Community School.  And, as Lora mentioned, that amount does not fund even the most basic services that we need.

And where are we headed with Student Based Allocations?  District allocations are our only source of funding.  Schools like Anthony, Kenny, Burroughs, Hale/Field, Armatage and Barton share in this vulnerability.  Last fall, we were told by the School District that by the time the first round of Community Partnership Schools were approved (which is this evening), there would be a transparent methodology that would show us all how basic budgets are set for all schools, and how funding for schools with little or no Title 1 funding would look on a per-student basis. To date, we have seen no specifics.  Parents are asking our Site Council about it- we have nothing to share.   As time goes on, everyone starts to assume the worst.  How low could it go?

When we start to look to the future, with potential lower allocations, we anticipate unacceptable class sizes (40 in kindergarten?  45 in 8th grade?) I’ve already seen neighbors send their kids to the suburbs, and I can only imagine that we would lose more.

With such limited funding, we are already in the position of turning away kids in our own attendance area, not to mention no capacity for bringing in kids from surrounding areas.

Don’t make us choose between a part-time school nurse and sufficient playground supervision.

We recognize the issues and challenges that the School Board faces in closing the achievement gap.  The achievement gap is a shame that must be addressed across the entire District.  

However, eroding the performance of high performing schools by bleeding their budgets until they can’t sustain their quality is no solution.  The concerns I present to you are not about extras, or entitlement.  This is about providing basic services to the kids who choose our school.

I firmly believe that by helping our underserved populations, we will all do better.  Together.

 Please communicate your plans for setting Student Based Allocation budgets, and make our schools a part of the conversation.