St. Paul school district plans to reduce staff next year as enrollment falls

St. Paul Public Schools plans to reduce its workforce by the equivalent of 51 full-time jobs next school year amid a several-year decline in student enrollment.

District leaders have outlined a general fund budget of $571 million — $12 million less than the current school year.

State revenue is expected to fall as enrollment drops by around 1,000 more students. Local revenue from student field trips and other activities is projected to decline, too, as is fundraising.

The impact on staffing could change before the school board approves the budget next month, but for now, the equivalent of 35 full-time teaching jobs could disappear, along with eight teaching assistants and a handful of other positions.

There likely will be enough retirements and resignations that few workers, if any, will be forced out of a job with the district.

Human resources director Kenyatta McCarty said that as of Friday, the district had 356 positions open for next year. There have been a lot of retirements, she said, and the district has created some new positions it has yet to fill.

“That’s quite a large number compared to what we’ve seen in past years,” she said.

McCarty said they’ll look to start hiring earlier this year, especially for teachers.

Superintendent Joe Gothard said hiring early will be important with so much federal coronavirus relief money flowing to local governments.

“There is a workforce demand out there,” he said.

For a second consecutive year, the district is using a priority-based budget process that builds from nothing rather than carrying over allocations from the previous year.

In line with the district’s strategic plan, spending next year will focus on systemic equity, positive school and district culture, college and career paths and culturally responsive teaching.

The district also intends to address learning loss related to the coronavirus pandemic and maintain flexibility in the way students learn. Building on more than a full year of distance learning, the district is creating a permanent online high school in the fall for up to 450 students.

The budget does not include increases in state funding that have yet to become law.

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