School District Budgeting 101



    Saint Paul Public Schools serves more than 35,000 students.

    • 48 percent have a language spoken at home other than English
    • 70 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch
    • 16 percent require special education services

    Our annual budget is more than $750 million

    Our revenue and expenses must balance. A balanced budget means the money coming in needs to equal the money going out



    Minnesota’s state constitution says that it is the legislature's duty to provide public schools and pay for it through taxation or other means.

    Most of the money for schools comes from:

    • State of Minnesota - 65 percent
    • U.S. government - 10 percent
    • Operating referendum - 21 percent
    • Sales of bond for capital projects (like construction) - 4 percent

    The money that comes from these sources comes with strings - or restrictions on how it is spent. We call this "categorical funding"

    Our district's special education is reimbursed at 59 percent. That means that for every dollar we spend, SPPS is only reimbursed for 50 cents

    SPPS also receives money dedicated to the needs of each student who is learning English as a second language



    Our annual budget is more than $750 million. Here's how the money is spent.

    About 23 percent of expenses are committed to long-term construction projects, long-term debts, food service and community education programs

    The remaining 77 percent is what we call the General Fund. It pays for the core of education in Saint Paul Public Schools

    • Our staff is our biggest resource and our biggest expense - 78 percent of the general fund goes toward salaries and benefits
    • Smaller amounts are fixed costs to keep buildings in operation - 2 percent
    • Additional money is for purchased services such as contracted school bus transportation - 9 percent
    • Even though we are the second largest district in Minnesota, our administrative costs are lower than the state average - 3.5 percent*
    • The remaining is for construction projects, supplies and other school support costs - 11 percent


    *Most recent data available from the 2015-16 school year.

What's Next?

  • For the next school year, the district's expenses are projected to increase due to inflationary increases in salaries, benefits, supplies and utilities.

    SPPS is projecting a 2.9 million dollar shortfall for the 2019-20 school year. The budget must be brought in balance before June 30, 2019 when the Board of Education votes to approve it.