South St. Paul Public Schools Receives School Finance Award
The Minnesota Department of Education has recognized the South St. Paul Public Schools with its School Finance Award. The award is given annually based on accuracy and timeliness in financial reporting and indicators of financial health. This is the 5th consecutive year that the South St. Paul Public Schools has received this award.
“We work very hard to be good stewards of our community’s schools and our tax dollars,” said Dave Webb, South St. Paul Schools superintendent. “Strong schools make strong communities, and I’m proud of our staff who go the extra mile every day on behalf of our students.”
The school district continues to do more with less, as state funding has not kept pace with increasing educational costs nor with inflation. Those financial challenges are compounded by the fact that the district has the lowest levels of local property tax support as well as the highest level of family poverty in Dakota County.
“We have cut nearly $6 million in less than 10 years, and have proposed another $1 million in cuts for next year,” said Aaron Bushberger, South St Paul Schools Finance Director. “It’s good to know the state recognizes how hard we are working on our taxpayers’ behalf, as these cuts become increasingly difficult to make.”
South St. Paul suffers from a state property tax system that penalizes the community for having low levels of commercial property – which results in South St. Paul homeowners paying more than neighboring school districts to raise the same amount of local school revenue. The district has been advocating for the state legislature to “equalize” school funding, which provide a fairer system for taxpayers and schools.
South St. Paul Schools is the state’s first K-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools district, and seniors have the opportunity to earn three diplomas by the time they graduate from high school (high school diploma, IB Diploma and Associate in Arts degree). The District serves approximately 3,700 students as well as hundreds of adult lifelong learners in two elementary schools, a secondary school and a community learning center.