At the regularly scheduled December board meeting for Sleepy Eye Public Schools, Superintendent John Cselovszki said if the state restructures the current financial goals, the district could potentially see $1,000 more per year phased in over a period of four years.
“I truly believe this is a good proposal,” Cselovszki said. “If this (proposal) would go into place, we would have to take a hard look at whether we would seek another levy referendum.”
According to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Finance Working Group recommendations and report, Minnesota’s current system of funding schools is in need of systemic overhaul.
The report states that while the current funding system served the state well for many years, changes in student demographics, higher numbers of student in poverty or in need of special education and increasing demands for what every student should know and be able to demonstrate has left the system outdated.
Major recommendations from the 2012 Commissioner’s Education Finance Working Group for education finance reform include all-day kindergarten for students living in poverty, less reliance on local levy referendums, and restoring the inflation-adjusted general education formula to the FY 2003 level, reform special education funding and compensatory funding to more effectively close achievement gaps.
The report says that many factors have contributed to the state’s funding system becoming outdated. One of those factors is Minnesota’s concentration of students living in poverty, special education students, students with limited English proficiency and students of color significantly increasing.
In addition, state aid per student for K-12 education has increased over the past eight years, but at a rate well below the rate of inflation, the report says. Due to the increasing reliance on referendum levies and wide variations in districts’ ability to pass referendums, the gap between the 95th and fifth percentiles of general education revenue per student increased from 19 percent in FY 2003 to 31 percent in FY 2013.
Further compounding the problem, according to the report, is the decline in the state’s equalization aid for operating referendum and debt service levies during the past decade.
Superintendent John Cselovszki was optimistic about the district being in a better financial position, according to the figures in the report. Those figures show that revenue would rise from $10,411 under the current law to $11.501 under the working groups recommendation.
In other news the board approved:
• the reviewed 513 policy on student promotion, retention and program design as recommended by the policy committee.
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• resignations of Amber Wicke, paraprofessional and Courtney Brey, head volleyball coach.
The next meeting will be held Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m.