Robbinsdale Area Schools

District to make $17 million in budget reductions for next school year

District to make $17 million in budget reductions for next school year

Public school district finances can be a complicated web of funds and mandates, and this coming year, the district faces substantial challenges. 

Due to a number of factors, the district will be cutting approximately $17 million in expenses for the 2024-25 school year. 

It’s a challenging reality most public school districts are facing in 2024 as the last of the so-called COVID funding – millions in federal stimulus dollars provided to schools during the pandemic – officially ends.

For Rdale, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds paid for nearly $7 million in expenses this past school year. And without a permanent funding source to replace them, there’s no way to fill the hole in future budgets.

“Those federal stimulus funds have been vital in allowing us to provide services we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to offer, such as mental health support,” said Interim Superintendent Marti Voight. “So using those stimulus dollars as we did was important. We chose what was best for our students. Our challenge is that student mental health needs continue even though the pandemic is behind us.”

Federal funding is just part of the story. Over the past five years, Rdale’s enrollment has fallen by 1,690 students – about 17 percent – to 10,321. It’s a trend demographers have warned about previously as home sales in the community remain stagnant, resulting in an increase in empty-nesters and a decrease in the availability of starter homes. Fewer young families means fewer school-aged students. And those younger families are having fewer children than past generations.

Multiple factors – declining enrollment; the end of time-limited federal funding; significant inflationary costs to daily expenses; increases to labor contracts; and 20 years of state funding that has not kept pace with inflation – have resulted in a projected $17 million shortfall for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

“We’re doing our best to make sure the cuts we make stay as far from the classroom as possible. But the reality is each school will see reductions in staff,” Voight said. “District leadership and our Board of Education are committed to being good stewards of our students and staff, our buildings and our tax dollars.”

Already this school year, district leaders have accounted for nearly $1 million in savings that will carry over to future budgets. This includes leaving open positions vacant, reducing purchased services, pausing out-of-state travel, and making other, smaller reductions. Nearly $4 million in cuts will be made at the district office, including the elimination of positions from directors to office personnel. Another $11 million in reductions will be made at the schools, mostly by eliminating staff. Finally, about $2 million in cuts will be made to other line items, such as contracted services and equipment purchases, along with various cost efficiencies.

“I know this seems big,” said Voight. “But the reductions are necessary to keep the district fiscally healthy, and I’m confident our staff, students and community will continue the good work of educating and graduating our students.”

Details about more specific impacts and next steps won't be available until late-May when the School Board received and reviews the preliminary 2024-25 budget.

More budget information: