Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News)- The Rochester Public School Board has approved a budget framework that would cut over 100 full time jobs. 

Get our free mobile app

Superintendent Kent Pekel presented board members with a proposal last month that calls for a $14 million reduction in spending. The initial spending reduction target was set at $7 million, but Pekel says further action is needed to align the district’s operating costs with student population growth. 

The budget framework unanimously approved by board members Tuesday night calls for cutting about 77 full time teaching jobs and for the elimination of more than 40 education support professional jobs, along with a number of administrative, clerical, school nurse, and maintenance positions. Before the vote, Pekel emphasized the framework is just parameters not specific cuts.

Kent Pekel. Rochester Public Schools/YouTube
Kent Pekel. Rochester Public Schools/YouTube

The exact number of job cuts needed to meet the spending reduction target won't be known until this spring. Some of the reductions will likely be addressed by leaving positions open following retirements and resignations, but Pekel also says some layoffs are likely. 

“This is tremendously difficult to all of us. None of us want to be in this place. None of us think this is a somehow productive, painful but somehow enlightening exercise,” Pekel said. 

Board members raised concerns of the impact the staffing cuts would have on the district meeting special education requirements, class sizes and other services offered by the district. Pekel says district staff will analyze the impacts of potentially larger class sizes and look for ways to avoid large sections, but cautions the necessary cuts cannot be achieved if special education and class sizes are untouched. 

In addition to the proposed cuts, Pekel is recommending the use of $7.4 million in Federal COVID-19 funding to maintain critical services to students. The proposed budget parameters also call for using $200,000 from the school district reserves and delaying $2 million in payments to a health savings account and a fund used to pay for unused sick time at retirement or other employee departures. The superintendent said the temporary pauses in the fund transfers will not impact retiree benefits. 

The District Administration will prepare a budget draft in March and April before gathering public feedback on the next budget in May, according to a timeline presented to board members. The school board will then study the budget proposal on May 30 before voting on whether or not to approve the budget on June 20.

Wow! Check out how Rochester has changed throughout the years in these Google photos.

As we are soaring down Hwy 52, it is hard to imagine what life was like in our town before the Target store was built where it is today. Or the house that you live in now, at one point in town, that wasn't there. In fact, Rochester has grown so fast throughout the years, most of our houses weren't even around 50 years ago! Don't believe me? Look through these photos to get a glimpse of what Rochester was like years ago.

More From KROC-AM