As an educator and former Chair of the Education Committee, I am pleased to see significant advances in K-12 education in the last few years. Last year’s investments in educational programs like all-day kindergarten and early childhood education helped move education forward in Minnesota.
This session, I am the co-author of the location equity legislation which extends local option funding to all school districts. The goal was to level the playing field, grant more flexibility to smaller, rural schools and equalize school funding in ways that will help rural Minnesota.
Over the years I have heard many difficult stories from rural school districts across Northwestern Minnesota. There are stories about not having enough money to make major capital investment repairs, and stories about decades old HVAC systems that are in desperate need of updating. School administrators talk about wanting to provide more electives and greater opportunities for their students. This legislation can help small struggling schools make much needed improvements and offer a more diverse selection of courses.
One of the most important components of this legislation is allowing local districts the option to raise funds if they need them. Under this legislation, school districts could choose to raise the levy by up to $424 per student. For small districts like Bagley, that means $219 more per student, added together it totals nearly $218,500 more per year. That can make a big difference for students attending schools in tiny communities. Crookston is another example of a community that could greatly benefit from this legislation. The Crookston School District could gain an extra $189 per student, which adds up to $242,000 extra per school year.
As your State Senator, I work hard to provide school districts the tools they need to give Minnesota students a world class education. I am pleased with the direction Minnesota is headed. When our schools have enough money to give our students the best opportunities, our state and its citizens win.