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Anoka-Hennepin Schools has stopped planning for a shutdown, district leaders announced Wednesday, noting a budget breakthrough as it works through board member concerns over spending on racial diversity and gender equity programming.

Four members agreed to approve a 2024-25 budget during a work session Tuesday, Superintendent Cory McIntyre said in an interview Wednesday.

"We got the verbal commitment," he said. "We're planning for the next school year."

A formal vote on the budget still must be taken in June, but for now, the district is setting aside worst-case-scenario planning that included a suspension of pay and benefits for employees and stoppage of construction projects beginning July 1.

The district had been headed for a potential 3-to-3-vote impasse on 2024-25 spending until co-chair Zach Arco, a member of the board's conservative bloc, agreed Tuesday night to keep the budget approval separate from a hashing out of concerns over diversity, equity and inclusion programming, McIntyre said.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Arco confirmed he is the fourth vote in favor of a budget but he declined additional comment, saying the district's announcement on the matter would suffice.

On Monday, hundreds of students and supporters marched to the board's April meeting in protest of a Facebook post by conservative Board Member Matt Audette saying he and newcomers Arco and Linda Hoekman could not vote in "good conscience" for a 2024-25 budget that funds activities spreading "divisive, one-sided views."

Those views, he wrote, include teachings on systemic racism, the use of preferred pronouns, social-emotional learning, the state's new social studies standards and the flying of any flag other than the American flag.

Such concerns have been aired increasingly in the course of post-pandemic school board campaigns. But a threatened budget veto took such anti-DEI messaging to a new level.

Val Holthus, president of the Anoka-Hennepin teachers union, which endorsed the campaigns of each of the board's three-member progressive bloc, accused Audette, Arco and Hoekman on Monday of holding the district and its students hostage in a "partisan war." Students who spoke before and after the march said they felt a greater sense of belonging thanks to the district's student affinity groups.

At the start of Tuesday's work session, Arco pledged that those groups would not be cut.

In its announcement Wednesday, the district said that a process to review the issues advanced by Audette had been outlined during Tuesday's 5½-hour work session, but the timeline has yet to be determined.

"My job is to make sure we're all on the same page going forward," McIntyre said.

A final vote on the district's 2024-25 budget is set for June 24.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the date of the June school board meeting.