Thursday, February 19, 2015

Capitol Visit Update

On February 18, 2015 I traveled with three other superintendents from rural Minnesota to St. Paul.  We set up a pretty aggressive agenda to meet with our local legislatures as well as education leaders.

We met with the following legislatures:

Rep. Mary Murphy – Education Finance DFL Lead
Rep. Peggy Bennett – Education Innovation Policy Vice Chair
Rep. Ron Kresha – Education Finance Vice Chair
Rep. Jenifer Loon – Education Finance Chair (met with her conference aide)
Rep. Sondra Erickson – Education Innovation Policy Chair (canceled)
Sen. Charles Wiger – Education Committee Chair
Sen. Alice Johnson – Education Committee Vice Chair (canceled)
Sen. Julie Rosen – Local Senator
Rep. Tony Cornish – Local Representative
Sen. Sean Nienow – Education Committee Ranking Minority Member
Rep. Carlos Mariani – Education Innovation DFL Lead

The topics we discussed were as follows:

Additional Money on the Formula – As a district we would like to see more money added to the formula so that we can use discretion as to what it is spent on.  We do not need any added mandates with earmarked financial allocation or unfunded mandates.

Access to Alternative Facilities Funds to Maintain Buildings – The largest 25 metropolitan districts have access to alternative facilities funds to maintain their buildings.  Rural Minnesota districts are not allowed access to these funds.  In order for us to properly maintain our buildings we would like to see equitable treatment in this area.

Teacher Shortage – Reality has set in and we are facing a teacher shortage in several areas of education.  The State of Minnesota must do something to attract and retain people to education.  One of the first steps they could consider is to revise the Minnesota Teacher License Exam (MTLE) to make it more realistic for folks to pass.  In addition to this, the State of Minnesota should consider and embrace more alternative pathways to licensure.  Creating reciprocity with neighboring states would also help attract people to Minnesota.  Lastly, we need to be provided a decent increase to the funding formula so that we may provide our teachers with acceptable income. 

Local Control over the School Calendar – Districts in the State of Minnesota need to be given local control over their learning year.  Each individual district should have the right to work with their students, families and communities to create a school calendar that fits their needs.  Right now, school districts are required to wait until after Labor Day to commence the new academic year. 

If you would like to discuss this information at greater length, I encourage you to contact me through the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton District Office at 507.234.5181.

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