A CHANGE TO STATE EDUCATION FUNDING MODEL COULD ELIMINATE REFERENDUMS

Governor Tim Walz, a former teacher has said he’d like to see a future where school districts in Minnesota don’t need to pass referendums to operate by creating a more equitable state funding system.   “School districts rely heavily on referendums,” said Crookston School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson.  “When you take a look at state aid, and what we have to work with, we receive less in buying power than we did in 2003.  Schools operate more and more on referendums to operate.  I appreciate Governor Walz stance on referendums because they are difficult, very time consuming and can be divisive in communities.”

Olson says each community is different so passing a referendum in some other communities is a challenge for schools and has impacts on students.  “Each community is so different, some communities are very supportive of education that don’t have the same referendums, some that are more conservative and just not able to provide that kind of funding,” said Olson.  “You have some districts that will pass referendums to keep their schools operating and some that just can’t get those passed.  The impact to the classroom is quite substantial meaning fewer teachers, fewer paraprofessionals, fewer programming options for students and none of those things are good for kids or families.”

A recent bi-partisan bill introduced into the house and senate would allow school boards to roll over referendums as long as they don’t increase the dollars per student the referendum provides.