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EDINA, Minn. -- The waiting game continues. Top Republican lawmakers met with Governor Mark Dayton about the overdue budget, as thousands wait for word on the sidelines. That includes the educators who work in the public school system.
A group of school policy makers gathered to express their concerns over the next budget, whenever it would come.
"If you don't have money coming in you're going to be wondering what's your next move? You never know because you get what they give you," Anoka/Hennepin School Board Member John Hoffman explained at a news conference.
"The uncertainty is probably the biggest problem with the shutdown," South Washington County School Board member Jim Gelbmann said.
Most districts get between 50 and 75 percent of their operating budget from state funds. A shutdown would shut the money pipeline down. School boards must have their budgets decided by June 30th, just hours before the anticipated shutdown. Not knowing how much money is coming in creates a tough situation.
"We're just cheering for that solution," Edina Superintendent Dr. Ric Dressen said. His district has already approved 3 tiers of cuts, totaling more than $2 million. It was a proactive move based on projected funding from the state. The district has 3 other tiers ready to roll if the shutdown lasts a few months or more.
"These are new waters. I think we have to be patient and remain very flexible so that's why we've built a budget that's responsive," Dr. Dressen explained. Edina, like many other school districts in the metro, has some money stashed away to get it through several weeks of shutdown. But if there's no deal by the time the kids come back, many districts would be forced to borrow money.
The Minneapolis School District also has some rainy day money it can tap into. The school will be debating its $656 million budget next week. Minneapolis only depends on state money for 56% of its needs, but, the district also relies on federal funds. The only way it can get those funds is through the state. So a shutdown would prohibit them from getting that money.
There's a lot of uncertainty. School Board members say there isn't much more they can cut, regardless of a budget deal. "You're going to cut direct services to students. So no matter how it lays out, it's going to be a direct impact on the classroom," Hoffman concluded.
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