Budget-cutting season in state’s schools

Cuts in school finances have been going on for years, but now it really has their attention in Brainerd. Why? Now, they’re going after athletics — the sacred cow of school finances.

According to the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper (reg. required), the district is considering how best to implement $5.5 million in cuts, with about $860,000 to come from athletics. Last night, 300 people heard about the two plans being considered. One retains adapted floor hockey, baseball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, dance, football, softball, boys’ and girls’ swimming, boys’ and girls’ track and volleyball. Participation fees would jump from about $80 to near $300 per sport. A second plan retains more sports but calls for more money from booster clubs.

Brainerd is not alone in the budget cutting.

In Duluth, a similar situation is facing school officials. They need to cut almost $6 million from the budget. On Monday night, they outlined a plan to cut administrative positions — including athletic directors — as well as shutter a school, reduce technology and textbooks. A list of cuts on the district’s Web site today lists increasing fees for “co-curricular” activities, but does not include outright cutting of any athletic programs, and says a proposal to charge students the full cost of participating in athletics is not being considered now.

In Savage, the school district is considering not opening a new school that’s just been built, and is also considering increasing the cost of participation in athletics. Other programs facing cuts at the middle school level include peer mediation, the district spelling bee, student newspapers, chess teams, speech, drama club, math masters, technology club, and traveling basketball, football, volleyball and soccer.

The situation is inspiring a new round of an old debate: should high schools, in particular, still be in the sports team business?

  • Minn Wahler

    What continues to boggle my mind is short sightedness. If we (the babyboomers) expect to be supported in our elderly years, how can we continue to hit education, healthcare, etc. as ways to quickly balance this year’s budget?

    In the long run, all but those with incredible financial portfolios, will survive and ironically they seem to be the folks making the budget decisions.

    Investing in our future does not just involve our personal financial portfolios.

    Well maybe if we don’t live to see it…???

    (tongue imbedded in cheek)

  • Bob Collins

    Education (K-12) was pretty much spared in the budget cuts. In several of these cases, local district voters did not approve levy referenda. Also, one of the problems is declining enrollment. So they’ve got the infrastructure in place of, say 10 to 20 years ago, with a declining birthrate they don’t have the students anymore.

    And without the students, they don’t have the per-pupil funding.

    In many ways, it’s a preview of things to come as the baby boomers retire. There aren’t going to be as many people working and paying taxes to support the things we have now.

  • Tuffy

    Education (K-12) was pretty much spared in the budget cuts.

    That’s all well and ok, but you’re missing the other part of the equation: if spending on education isn’t in case at least as much as inflation, education *is*, in fact, having their budgets cut.

    Take a look at MN state increases on education as compared to the inflation rate over the last decade. It’s laughable at best, bordering instead on outright neglect.

  • Tuffy

    Education (K-12) was pretty much spared in the budget cuts.

    That’s all well and ok, but you’re missing the other part of the equation: if spending on education isn’t increased at least as much as inflation, education *is*, in fact, having their budgets cut.

    Take a look at MN state increases on education as compared to the inflation rate over the last decade. It’s laughable at best, bordering instead on outright neglect.