Parents worry budget plan could close schoolsby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Parents of students in the East Metro Integration District are worried a new budget plan is a back-door attempt to close the district's two schools.
EMID was formed in the 1990s as a means to create integrated schools for St. Paul and nine neighboring districts. In October, board members agreed to keep open Harambee and Crosswinds schools but under a new arrangement in which member districts send less state integration funding to EMID.
Kelly Debrine's daughter attended Crosswinds. She was surprised by this week's proposed budget that would move all integration dollars away from the two schools, leaving them to survive on reserves and general state aid — something she said traditional school districts would never have to do.
"It just seems like a mean-spirited move, and it's unsustainable. And it indicates they have no investment in the schools being a part of the collaborative."
Interim superintendent Jerry Robicheau says he understands parents' frustration; the budget proposals would require reductions of $1.7 million to $1.8 million. While every district must tighten budgets, cuts in smaller districts like EMID have a larger impact, he said. Robicheau hopes the schools stay open and thinks it is too soon to know whether the cuts would lead to closures.
"Let's wait and see and let's find out, as we take a look at budget cuts and we establish priorities, what does that mean for long-term," Robicheau said.
"But the cuts absolutely are going to have a negative impact; there's no way they cannot."