RPS responds to rejected referendum, “painful cuts” expected

Rochester School Board Responds to Rejected Referendum

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(ABC 6 News) – Rochester Public Schools superintendent Kent Pekel responded on the technology referendum which voters rejected on the Nov. 7 election.

In his statement, Pekel calls for Rochester residents to support funding the school district “if Rochester wants to provide all its young people with the caliber of education that will enable them to succeed in the economy and in society in which they will live their lives.”

Pekel compares Rochester Public schools to “other comparable Minnesota school districts” like Bloomington, Wayzata, Mounds View and more. Pekel points to the fact that schools with similar or fewer school populations far outspend Rochester’s per pupil spending

Minnesota voter-approved community investments in schools by district (Credit: Rochester Public Schools)

“It is important to note that there are other school districts in Minnesota that, like Rochester Public Schools, receive comparatively low levels of funding from their local communities,” wrote Pekel. “Those school systems, however, are not located in a community that is and seeks to remain a global leader in medicine, science, and service to humanity.”

Pekel continues, stating that RPS will need to demonstrate that increased funding would not only fund the future of RPS students, “but productivity and profitability of our employers.”

However, wrote Pekel, the voter-rejected referendum will result in “painful cuts” to public education.

According to RPS, RPS have cut $21 million from the school’s budget since 2021, including the elimination of 150 jobs.

The failure of the referendum will allegedly result in at least $10 million in cuts to the districts 2024-2025 budget as school revenue falls and expenses rise

According to RPS, the school’s bus contract costs will grow by 30%.

“The decrease in revenue that our district will experience next year will not be, despite what some may say, a result of significantly declining enrollment,” wrote Pekel.

According to Pekel, RPS will also make major cuts in order to maintain salaries and benefits of school district staff.

Pekel wrote that RPS will need to advocate for higher levels of funding from the state as costs rise.

Pekel’s full statement can be read here.