Community members demand answers at Shakopee Public Schools forum

A forum to answer questions about Shakopee Public Schools' $4.5 million “budget error” went twice as long as scheduled as community members grilled district leaders Monday night.

The forum followed outcry surrounding the error and concerns with communication.

While leaders learned of a problem in late 2016, the superintendent did not email district staff until March 10 — after some elementary school teachers were already told they may not have jobs next year partially due to the error.

On Monday night, Rod Thompson, the superintendent started the forum by apologizing for poor communication surrounding the error, telling a packed junior high auditorium the “timing was wrong.”

District leaders provided the most detailed explanation of the error yet, citing three types of mistakes: under budgeted line items, flat lined items and some line items left blank. Leaders also laid out how the district is working to ensure it finishes the school year in the black.

However, the question of how many teachers could lose their jobs remains unanswered. While some elementary school teachers were told they would likely not have jobs next year, leaders said they still can’t say how many jobs, if any, it will get cut.

Following a presentation on the error, dozens of people peppered the board with questions. Questions frequently referenced concerns the district has a spending problem and worries over declining trust for leaders.