St. Paul Schools cutting $114 million from next year’s budget

Dealing with expiring federal funds from the COVID-19 pandemic that has created a budget shortfall, St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) district has announced more than $100 million in budget cuts for the upcoming school year.

Approved by its board of education, in total the Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) budget includes $707.5 million in general fund expenses, but a decrease of $114.6 million from Fiscal Year 2024.

The budget reflects the current projected shortfall of $150.3 million, the majority of which stems from pandemic-era American Rescue Plan (ARP) federal funding that expires in September 2024, officials say.

"This budget reflects the priorities set out in our strategic plan, maximizes programs that are having a positive impact on student achievement, and aligns with the community values and instructional priority that you identified as part of this yearlong budget process," said Interim Superintendent John Thein in a statement following the announcement.

Other factors for the impending budget shortfall include student enrollment, inflation and employee wages and benefits.

In March, SPPS teachers announced a new contract agreement following months of negotiations – averting a potential strike.

"As we reflect on this school year and look forward to the next one, I am proud and optimistic about the future of Saint Paul Public Schools," Thein said in a statement. "Reducing our expenses has required making many difficult decisions that I do not take for granted. While acknowledging these challenges, I am confident that this budget will allow SPPS to adapt and innovate, and to uphold our mission of inspiring all students to think critically, pursue their dreams and change the world."

The budget is the first under the purview of Thein, following the departure of Joe Gothard, who will be the next chief of schools for the Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin.

Gothard was previously named the 2024 National Superintendent of the Year.