I would like to communicate not only what our district is seeking legislatively but also why. As we prepare for the legislative session, it is imperative for schools to consider what we are seeking to accomplish and how to do so in a reasonable and respectful manner.
We cannot overshadow the fact that our legislators have been making good faith efforts to support public schools in the last few bienniums. I sincerely believe that given the fiscal condition of the state at the time, sincere efforts were made to fund schools at the level that the state could afford.
Over the last few years, schools have been given two percent increases in revenue which were much greater than the previous sessions, this was a result of both sides of the aisle working together to fund public education. We cannot forget to thank our legislators for the good work that has been done, however, to move forward we must look at doing more in the coming biennium.
What Crookston Public Schools is seeking in this next biennium is a three percent increase on the formula due to the fact that while our state aid has increased over time, it has not kept up to inflation over the past few decades. We are also asking the legislature for funding that is predictable and sustainable. Our current funding formula is not indexed for inflation, meaning that any increase is a straight increase in funding with no built in factor for inflation. The buying power of the dollars we have received has actually decreased and has led to a somewhat unstable funding mechanism for schools. When you include inflation, schools are actually funded at lower levels than in 2003 based on the per student formula adjusted for inflation as shown in this chart from the Minnesota Department of Education.
We are also asking the legislature for cross subsidy support for special education. Cross subsidy is the difference between what the state and federal government pay towards special education and the total cost of special education. Currently the state and federal government do not fully fund special education and as a result of this Crookston Public Schools must contribute $800,000-$900,000 per year to fully fund this gap in revenue for special education from our general education dollars. We are asking the legislature to provide a mechanism to help districts close the gap between what is funded and what is not as we realize that it would be both imprudent and unsound fiscally to ask the state to fund the entire cross subsidy for special education.
As Crookston Public Schools along with other districts and various educational organizations start to provide input on educational funding we want to get the word out about the needs facing public schools. We also want to balance this out with a clear look at what is best for the state as there are other priorities that need to be addressed in addition to education such as human services, higher education, and transportation. If anyone has any questions or wants to further discuss educational finance, please feel free to contact me by phone at 218-770-8717 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pirate Pride on display
• The last week was a very successful week for Crookston Public Schools Academic Competition with the Spelling Bee, Knowledge Bowl, and the MSUM Art A Fair. I wanted to recognize these individuals for their dedication and hard work as they represent Crookston Public Schools.
• Summer Goulet recently won the Crookston Public Schools spelling bee! We wish her the best as she moves on to the next level of competition. We are truly proud of her accomplishment along with the many participants of our spelling bee who competed for this honor. I enjoyed watching our spelling bee as our students put themselves out there and tackled word after word. I am proud of these students in taking academic success seriously!
• Crookston High School Knowledge Bowl Team took 1st place at Thief River Falls: Crookston sent two Knowledge Bowl teams to Thief River Falls to compete against 40 other teams. The Crookston Team made up of Walker Winjum, Josh Bernia, Tai Baig, Scott Cordova, and Ben Brantner took first in this competition.
• Skylar Weiland won an Honorable Mention in Photography at the MSUM Art A Fair. This event had 250 pieces of art and 33 schools were represented. Skylar’s photograph entitled Purple Maybe was well received and represented Crookston High School!