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Minneapolis Board of Education

c/o Minneapolis Public Schools
1250 West Broadway Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55411

Dear MPS Board Directors,

Minneapolis suffers from some of the worst racial disparities in the nation, and actions taken at
your board meeting last week only further that problem. We write to address the irresponsible
resolution to change the district’s 2018-2019 budget introduced by Director Rebecca Gagnon and
hastily passed by your board at last week’s meeting.

The budget proposed by Superintendent Ed Graff and his leadership team was vetted by multiple
constituencies over several months, and while not perfect, it prioritized the needs of students of
color and those in poverty. We cannot allow Director Gagnon to undermine the process by
steering additional money to the school where her child attends.

During every step of the process over the last six months, board members had the opportunity to
take issue with individual line items like the $6.4 million “time allocation” funds that Director
Gagnon’s resolution restores. She clearly is representing a small group of privileged and
politically-connected parents at Washburn High School. We reject their attempt to upend a $650
million budget process so that one low-poverty high school can avoid sharing the burden of
budget cuts.

This resolution undermines your stated goals of transparency and equity, and it weakens the
already fragile public trust between the Minneapolis Public Schools and communities of color.

The issues raised since last week are complex, and affected communities have had no time to
consider the implications of this surprise resolution. We are concerned that:

• The resolution restores $6.4 million to 16 schools, but directs Supt. Graff to find the
savings without impacting school budgets or tapping district reserves. That puts
custodians, athletics, transportation and the Office of Black Male Achievement on the
table for cuts, all to satisfy the demands of one school community.

• Money will be siphoned from schools with the highest concentrations of poverty and
most English Language Learners.

• Two high schools – Southwest and Washburn – get far more of the $6.4 million than high
schools with far higher rates of poverty; Southwest’s budget will be increased by 10%
over last year and Washburn will have the majority of their funding returned while higher
need high schools struggle with greater budget cuts;

• Elementary and middle school students attending K-8s won’t benefit from the restored
funding because it was passed outside of the normal budget process. Even worse, the cuts
made to central office services will impact these schools most.

We call on you to take no immediate steps to fulfill the unfair mandate of Director
Gagnon’s resolution, that you transparently provide us and other citizens with detailed
information on where you intend to draw the funds to restore the $6.4 million, and that you
allow the public the opportunity to weigh in before a final decision is made.

We also demand a meeting with Supt. Ed Graff at his earliest convenience to discuss our
concerns.

Sincerely,

Maria Cisnereros, KWST Behavioral Development
Maurissa BigJohn
Tonya Draughn, Little Earth
Kenneth Eban, SFER
Latasha Gandy, SFER
Nekima Levy-Pounds, Black Pearl, LLC.
Jonathan Mason- Minneapolis resident
Khulia Pringle- S.T.A.N.D. UP
Keary Saffold, MN. Comeback
Chris Stewart, Wayfinder Foundation
Rashad Turner, L.I.F.T.
Fartun Weli, Isuroon