Superintendent's Response: District deficit inaccurately portrayed
The March 6 headline at duluthnewstribune.com, "Comp ed changes grow Duluth schools deficit to more than $6 million," was incorrect.
In terms of our general-education dollars, the deficit is half that, $3 million.
Confusion arises because we as a district are choosing to spend our resources differently than we have in the past. We're investing in more strategies to improve students' learning and to ensure success for all students. This updating of our budget priorities does not result in a larger deficit.
Across the country, the state, and here in Duluth, an achievement gap exists between groups of students. These differences in achievement and graduation rates appear between students living in poverty and those from more affluent families, between students receiving special-education services and those who do not, and between students of color and their white peers. In Duluth, nearly half of our students live in poverty. Some of our schools have higher percentages of students with higher levels of need than others.
Prioritizing the achievement of all students to close achievement gaps required structuring our budget differently from the way it had been done, and we will be working through these changes in the coming months.
The Duluth school district's process for building a balanced budget includes input from staff, administrators, the School Board, and the wider community. Our goal is to create a budget that reflects the values, beliefs, and priorities of all concerned.
Look for more upcoming public meetings on the budget. We welcome the community's feedback and input as we go through this process.
Bill Gronseth is superintendent of Independent School District 709.