Shakopee School District facing millions in budget cuts without operating levy

Shakopee School District is looking at more budget cuts as the district makes another appeal to voters for an injection of cash. 

Shakopee residents rejected an operating levy this past election and now the school district says more cuts are on the horizon. 

The district has already cut $7.45 million for the current and upcoming school years. They are looking at $5.5 million in cuts for the 2023/2024 school year. 

They are the only district in the Twin Cities metro that operates without a voter-approved operating levy. The district says cuts will only continue without one. 

Shakopee receives $1,886 less per student than the Twin Cities metro area average, which amounts to about $15 million a year. 

"Either we need an infusion of permanent ongoing operating revenue and the only viable way to get that is an operating levy which needs to be approved by the voters, "said Mike Redmond, the Shakopee Superintendent. "Or we’ll be making a little more than $5 million in cuts in the 2023/2024 school year." 

The school board held a public forum Monday night where it laid out the financial realities of the district and answered questions. 

After November’s failed levy, the district cut more than 50 teaching positions, resulting in an increase in class size this coming school year. High school classrooms are projected to go from an average of 31 students to 36. 

Middle school sports and other activities were also cut. 

"And I would argue that we have done an unbelievable job of providing value for the money in this school district," said Redmond. "And now we’re facing an even tougher challenge and, at some point, you can’t squeeze any water out of a rock and we’re getting really close to that point if we’re not already at that point." 

Some residents tonight pushed back on the idea of an operating levy, expressing hesitation about giving the district more money when this district has had financial woes in the recent past, including a former superintendent who pleaded guilty to theft and embezzlement charges after he used school funds for sports tickets, travel and home improvement projects.