North St. Paul school district faces $8 million budget shortfall

Students at North St. Paul High School come to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, but it's the district that's getting a lesson in accounting, because next year's budget isn't adding up.

After making about $25 million in budget cuts over the last decade or so, the North St. Paul-Oakdale-Maplewood School District has to cut $8 million more from its $126 million budget by next year.

Superintendent Patty Phillips says, "We didn't cut for two years, so we gotta pay the piper sooner or later."

The shortfall is mainly due to have fewer students and higher expenses than expected, and cuts are expected to fall in the areas of teachers, clerical staff, and administrators, as the district has already sliced into programs like band.

As recently as a couple years ago, the district had about $25 million set aside in a rainy day fund, but building remodels, new security cameras, and artificial turf on two athletic fields used up most of that.

District officials say the real problem is that North St. Paul takes in about $1,200 less per-pupil than other metro districts, because taxpayers keep voting down school referendums.

Administrators will make their final recommendations to the school board about where to cut expenses in a couple weeks.