Frequently Asked Questions About Hopkins District Budget for School Years 2020-21 and 2021-22
I don't understand why we are over budget by $2.5 million. Can you help me better understand our current situation and how we got here?
The two biggest contributors to our perpetual funding challenge is state funding that does not keep pace with inflation and program expenditures that outpace revenue. While the state provides school districts with annual 2 percent increases, the annual cost of inflation and cost of living adjustments is 3 percent or greater. Hopkins is in the same predicament that most Minnesota school districts are facing. While the care for Hopkins runs deep for us, it is important to note that other districts are in a similar situation. This is not isolated to Hopkins. Examples include: Bloomington, $4.2M; Brooklyn Ctr, $2.4M; Burnsville, $7.5M; ECCS, $7.2M; Edina, $1M; Eden Prairie, $1M; Mpls, $27M; North St. Paul, $1.9M; Osseo, $5M; Prior Lake, $3M; Robbinsdale, $3.8M; SPPS, $9.9M; Shakopee, $2.5M; and St. Louis Park, $2.4 and many others.
Can we tap into fund balance?
The short answer is no. We do have a healthy fund balance that is presently within our fund balance policy guidelines. However, it will be a challenge to remain within our fund balance parameters if we do not move toward right sizing our budget by 2.5 percent for the 2020-21 school year.
Why are we just hearing about these cuts now?
Last spring, the School Board approved a final budget that included a need for reductions. The district's budget was then audited with a successful outcome from July to December. Finally, the Citizens Financial Advisory Committee reviewed the budget from November to January and offered recommendations that were approved by the School Board to inform this reduction and restructuring process. Bottom line, although this need for budget reductions is not a surprise to us, we want to be transparent with you. Reducing the budget by 2.5 percent is not insignificant and it is important that our staff and parents are aware, at least at a high level, of our need to reduce and do things differently. When it comes to budget decisions, our communication protocol begins with notifying and working with the School Board, then sharing that same information with staff, followed by sharing information with parents and our community.
How do we pay for building renovations and furniture? Could we spend that money to support the General Fund?
Funding for building renovations, furniture, and equipment such as technology comes out of the Building Construction Fund and the Capital Projects Levy, which are different from the General Fund. Building Construction programs are funded by the sale of bonds or capital loans and those funds are restricted to only be used for building construction. In 2017, the community approved a $10 million Capital Projects Levy. We are grateful for the community's support but there are restrictions on how these dollars can be used. The money can only be used for technology, furniture, equipment, building improvements and very select staff. It cannot be used to fund teachers or programs.
How are we able to fund technology programs?
Hopkins Public Schools is fortunate to be a technology rich district. The technology that supports our classrooms, including our 1:1 (one device for each student) technology programs comes from the Capital Projects Levy, which was approved in 2017. The Capital Projects Levy is restricted to supporting district technology, building renovations, furniture and select equipment.
What process are you using to make budget reductions for 2020-21? Why do we need to cut an additional $2.5 million for 2021-22, and will that process be different?
Our immediate need is to reduce the General Fund budget by $2.5 million for 2020-21, which is approximately 2.5 percent of our total General Fund budget. on March 20, the Hopkins School Board considered a set of budget recommendations to begin to right-size the budget for the 2020-21 as proposed by district leaders. Our proposal minimizes classroom and people impact, protects mental health and socioemotional health resources and learning supports, and protects special education services.
We expect to make reductions of about $2.5 million for 2021-22, as well. Again, to keep a healthy fund balance that meets policy guidelines, we will need to keep right sizing our budget by another 2.5 percent for the 2021-22 school year. By looking holistically at our budget to better understand how programs and departments could or should intersect more efficiently with one another, we have an opportunity to transform our system, which we aspire to do to reach Vision 2031. Our system was originally built in silos to support an industrial economy. It will take time and tenacity to break down these silos and rebuild an interdisciplinary system that fully aligns to the values of Vision 2031. We will use the 20-21 school year to collaboratively design a more cohesive coaching model as well as a new model for personalizing rigorous instruction, enrichment, and acceleration opportunities accessible to all students. We will be in touch with you about that soon. Please keep checking this page for updates on our process and opportunities to get involved.
When will we know what reductions are being proposed?
The Hopkins School Board heard a preliminary budget on March 20. Budget reduction recommendations were finalized just prior to that date.
What is the timeline for decisions now and into the school year 2021-22?
We are currently in stage one of our budget reduction and restructuring process. On February 27 we presented a list of recommendations to the school board. The recommendations included a list of potential reductions that have low impact on the classroom, as well as two ideas for how we might restructure licensed personnel and classified staff. Cabinet and principals also received a lot of feedback from staff and parents, which is shaped the proposal presented to the School Board during a workshop on March 20.
After the preliminary budget is approved by the School Board on March 20, district and school leaders will have time to work with school staff to shape restructured programs or individual roles. We will also use the summer to ensure staff have the professional development opportunities needed to engage in any program or role shifts for next school year. Finally, we will work to identify a staff and parent feedback timeline for stakeholder input regarding reductions and restructuring needs for the 2021-22 school year.
One of the restructuring recommendations is to Consolidate to reduce and restructure paraprofessional and clerical support roles. What does this mean?
We believe that while we have helpful and devoted non-licensed staff within schools, we can leverage our non-licensed expertise in a more streamlined, efficient, and coherent manner. The goal is to provide teachers with classroom support in a cohesive manner. We believe we can slightly restructure the roles of paraprofessionals and clerical staff to better align with teachers’ needs.
The second recommendation is to restructure how instructional coaches, literacy coaches, peer coaches, talent development coordinators, PK-12 school administrators, innovation design & learning specialists, and cabinet leaders are leveraged to support teachers. What does this mean?
We believe that while we have lots of expertise within schools and also within the district office, we can use licensed expertise in a more streamlined, efficient, and coherent manner. The goal is to provide teachers with personalized instructional support, and build the capacity of our amazing teachers to meet students’ unique learning needs. Once we identify a dollar amount of reduction within this broad space, we will work this spring to restructure people’s roles to shape a less fragmented, more coherent model of teacher support.
Will Talent Development (formerly known as Gifted and Talented) be delivered differently?
We are fully committed to developing students’ unique talents and strengths. We are also committed to continuing accelerated learning opportunities for students. Furthermore, we are compelled to find ways to be more inclusive and progressive in our instructional practices, using research from the science of learning. The current way we are delivering Talent Development benefits some students and reflects a stratified delivery model where students who qualify for the services are pulled out to receive enriched curriculum. We seek to address parents’ and our own concerns about the vast number of students “in the middle.” Our aspiration is to expand talent development to provide every student with rigorous, high-quality instruction, as well as facilitate accelerated learning opportunities across classrooms for students learning at a faster pace, much like the model we are building with reading and literacy.
At the same time, while we still intend to transform as we make reductions, many of you asked us to slow down the restructuring process to take more time to study, listen, and work with professionals currently serving in those roles, as well as principals, classroom teachers and parents to collectively determine what transformed programming might look like. We have heeded that advice. You will see very limited restructuring implications in the reduction list. We will use the 20-21 school year to collaboratively design a more cohesive coaching model as well as a new model for personalizing rigorous instruction, enrichment, and acceleration opportunities accessible to all students. It is our fiscal responsibility to look ahead more than one year and work collaboratively with all of you to determine our budget path for the 21-22 school year as we prepare to transform our system toward increased alignment with Vision 2031.
What will happen to accelerated math at the elementary level?
We are not eliminating acceleration in math nor will 4th-6th graders who are currently accelerating their math repeat content next year. Rather, we aspire to make acceleration opportunities more inclusive, both in the identification of which students might benefit as well as how accelerated learning is facilitated. The delivery model for accelerated learning will be shaped in a way that purposefully leverages available instructional resources.
When will the restructured plan be shaped?
We will work this spring to ensure that programs and people are in place for next year. We want to ensure students are positioned for a high-quality experience - of course for the rest of this school year, and especially for next year as we aim for increased rigor, inquiry-based learning, and students’ strengths and talents being fully developed. The work of shaping the student experience will benefit from staff collaboration and parent input.