Dear Northfield School District Families:
I have previously shared information about the need for the district to reduce its expenditures (Update Nos. 16, 17, 20, 22, 24, and 25) by approximately $4.5 million over the next two years. The district has lived its strategic commitment to stewardship. That stewardship combined with the generosity of the community has allowed us to avoid significant budget reductions over the past 11 years. However, the combination of chronic state underfunding and projected declining enrollment requires that we reduce our expenditures now in order to maintain our financial stability. That is one of our responsibilities to the public.
I write today to share with you the district’s recommendations for staff and program reductions resulting from the district’s budget prioritization process. Over 70 staff, students, community members, and parents participated in four budget prioritization meetings this winter. Everyone who expressed an interest in participating in the process was included. Their feedback about what programs or services should be funded in order to meet the vision, goals, and benchmarks in our strategic plan is central to the recommended budget plan. One of the primary areas of feedback was keeping general education class sizes as small as practicable. This plan does that throughout the school system.
As I have shared before, schools cannot make budget reductions without reducing staff. Nearly all school districts in Minnesota spend approximately 80% of their budget on salaries and benefits because we hire people to do good things for kids. These budget reduction recommendations are difficult. All district programs have a positive impact on students. The reductions impact our friends and neighbors.
The district is using just under a million dollars in COVID-19 relief funding to delay some reductions until the 2023-24 school year. We are reserving nearly another million dollars to provide further financial stability that will help us soften the budgetary impact of fewer students through the 2023-24 school year.
» You can read the budget plan document and corresponding proposed program reductions for the 2022-23 school year here. (This plan is included as part of the school board packet for Monday’s meeting.)
I want to remind you of the timeline for these decisions:
- Monday, April 25: The school board will review and consider the preliminary program reductions at their regular board meeting. The board will not vote about any program reductions at this meeting.
- Tuesday, May 3: A community open forum will be held at Northfield Middle School, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. This forum will include a presentation about the prioritization process and proposed reductions, an opportunity to meet in groups with school board members and district administrators, and an opportunity to participate in a public comment segment about the proposed budget reductions.
- Monday, May 9: The school board will finalize and approve program reductions at their regular school board meeting.
Once again, thank you for your understanding and support. It is valued and appreciated. Please reach out to me directly with any questions about the process or the proposed reductions.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools