Friday, January 21, 2011

Join the Win-Win Legislative Agenda, to put kids first in education

Public education faces a financial crisis this biennium that threatens our ability to provide a high quality education that Minnesota children deserve. In the last four years, the funding formula has gone up a total of 3 percent, with the last two years frozen. The special education deficit has begun to grow significantly again, and more districts are experiencing larger special education cross subsidies. Districts that had adequate reserves are losing them. More and more districts are reducing teachers and other staff, closing schools, raising fees, and cutting important programs. At the same time, over the last four years, the bargaining system in Minnesota has caused most school districts to increase compensation costs far beyond their capacity to pay.

The win-win legislative agenda says that we cannot solve these problems
without both cost controls and adequate revenues.

We call for:

  • Support for Senate File 0056 or its equivalent, which imposes a statewide hard freeze for public education employees through June 30, 2013
  • Support for House File 0092 which permanently repeals the bargaining penalty.
  • Support for a modest formula increase to assist school districts so that districts can recover from the last four years of funding neglect
  • Support for a legislative appropriation to cover the increased costs attributable to the four year ½ percent annual increase in district contributions to TRA and PERA
  • Support for repeal of special education mandates that exceed the federal requirements of IDEA or for State funding to cover those excess costs. Support for a statewide review of the cost drivers in special education leading to proposals to assure that special education is fully funded and sustainable.
Our support for a hard-freeze is not anti-labor or anti-teacher. We believe in our teachers and want them to be well-paid. The win-win legislative agenda is based on putting children first.

We are in the process of listening to our fellow board members and other citizens across the State to determine if there is widespread support for the win-win legislative agenda. We believe that it offers an opportunity for Governor Dayton and the legislative majority to compromise in the interest of children. We know that the DFL will struggle with the temporary hard freeze, and we know that the legislative majority will struggle with finding modest new revenues, but we believe that the win-win agenda offers a compromise that provides public education with a reprieve from destructive cuts, and puts our children first.

To provide input, comments, suggestions for revisions, or to offer your help....contact me at jvonkorff at charter dot net

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