RPS Board approves of 2023-2024 budget

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(ABC 6 News) – It was a pretty quick decision for the school board to approve the budget tonight.

This is something they’ve been planning since last year and after careful planning, they believe they found a budget that can work for the upcoming school year.

It was a unanimous vote, a decision that wasn’t easy but necessary.

To reduce the budget deficit, the school board had to cut 140 positions from their general fund.

Fewer than 10 teachers lost their jobs entirely, and other teachers will transition into new roles.

“So that’s good and we’re thrilled they’ll still be with us but it also means they’re moving schools, they’re not in the same place with their kids and family so those are not easy calls to make,” superintendent Kent Pekel said.

Last school year, RPS spent over 428 million dollars.

For the upcoming school year, they budgeted to spend around 390 million dollars.

As the budget has been finalized over the past several weeks, a number of adjustments in leadership positions have been identified.

One is the addition of a senior high assistant principal position at Century High School.

“This is a year of transition for Century High School they’re getting a new lead principal, and we are also adding another assistant principal there to help manage that transition so we’re looking at it as a one-year thing to help Century move forward,” RPS Chief Administrative Officer John Carlson said.

Another district addition will be a community budget committee.

It will consist of board members and community stakeholders who will provide feedback on budgets moving forward.

“The NAACP, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted County, organizations that have a big interest in how well our school district is doing and we’re going to have some people there who really like asking hard questions and thinking creatively about finance,” Pekel said.

Superintendent Pekel said the budget isn’t all financial, it’s about creating a pathway for student success through a successful strategic plan.

During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers approved a change that allows school districts to have a better idea of what their state funding will be.

Pekel said this will help to prevent any financial surprises.