April 18, 2017 11:02 PM
The Duluth School Board approved its preliminary 2018 budget, which includes a $2.3 million shortfall, at Tuesday night's meeting.
New investments totalling $783,000 include $300,000 for technology upgrades and $150,000 in an "equity investment" for Denfeld High School and Lincoln Park Middle School.
Folks sporting Denfeld gear filled the seats at the meeting Tuesday in a show of support for the district's investment. Several spoke passionately about it.
"Seeing my and my peers' educational opportunities taken away so East boys hockey can go to state year after year is frustrating and quite frankly, doing a disservice to every student on the West side," Denfeld sophomore Mya Halvorson said.
"We really do need some courage and leadership and joint action of this board and everyone who's involved with the schools to make some progress on this issue before we lose one more graduating class that didn't have the opportunity," Marla Halvorson, Mya's mother, said.
A community group presented 11 topics it thinks the district should focus on when addressing inequities. Of those, it said there are four priority issues:
-Offering advanced placement courses at both Denfeld and East
-Addressing lower graduation rates among students of color and low-income students
-Compensatory Education funding that should be used to close the achievement gap instead going toward general education goals
-A lack of transportation based on social and economic differences
"We ask you to time bus service to high school 0-hour around arrival of all students," Anne Skwire-Brown, who represented the group, said. "If 0-hour offerings are limited to just those who can get themselves to school, that's an equity issue."
In the proposed cuts, $120,000 would be taken away from clerical. A couple employees told the board that would have a significant impact on the district's daily functioning.
"As clerical, we understand budgets," Joan Lancour, president of Education Minnesota Duluth Clerical Local 692, said. We understand this daunting task of cutting $2-3 million. We see budgets every day."
"Remember that reducing the budget for clerical services does not change the amount of work that needs to be done," Heidi Morris, an executive assistant in the finance department, said.
The district has about an $85 million general fund.
The board still has to determine where an additional $276,738 in cuts will come from.
The final budget will be approved in June.
Updated: April 18, 2017 11:02 PM
Created: April 18, 2017 10:35 PM
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