Senate Takes Up Education Bill

By KBJR News 2

February 2, 2011 Updated Feb 2, 2011 at 7:25 PM CDT

A bill making its way through the Minnesota State Legislature may change the way school districts across the state do business.

With the state facing a multi–billion dollar budget deficit... education seems to be facing the biggest changes and not everyone is happy about it.

The bill heading towards the state senate holds some serious ramifications for school districts across the state.

The bill calls for the freezing of teacher salaries and the repeal of three state mandates which includes the requirement for school districts to spend two percent of their budget of staff development.

Duluth Federation of Teachers President Frank Wanner says Minnesota ranks near the bottom when it comes to staff development.

"We all want better teachers, we want teachers to have the opportunity to grow yet the legislature would take away the very funding used to do the things that often time the politicians say we should be doing"

Another mandate set for repeal is the Maintenance of Effort requirement for psychologists and other mental health professionals employed by school districts.

These repeals are putting school districts in a strange spot.
On one hand these efforts may help school districts balance their books, but districts also want to support their teachers and support staff.

Duluth School District Superintendent Dr. Keith Dixon said "In our case over the last couple of years we've worked side by side with our teacher association to talk about that and have moved the last couple of years to use the staff development dollars to keep more staff in the class room."

With dwindling budgets school districts will have to find ways to do more with less.

That's just the name of the game at this point.

However Wanner says to get education where it needs to be... taxes will have to be raised.

Not a pretty prospect for residents who already believe their taxes are hard enough.