Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It was a very interesting conference committee hearing this afternoon, as the Senate used the opportunity to present and discuss their special education provisions. As you are aware, the original Senate bill provides nearly $500 million in special education funding, starting with the $138 million deficiency for the current fiscal year.

Senator Sandy Rummel (DFL-White Bear Lake), chief author of the Senate legislation, gave a very comprehensive description of the bill and of its importance to school districts throughout Minnesota. Compelling testimony was provided by a number of school board members and education professionals, including the following representatives of SEE member districts: White Bear Lake Special Education Director Barbara Burke, St. Cloud School Board Member Jerry Van Korff (pictured above speaking with Senator Tarryl Clark after the meeting), and Osseo School Board Member (and SEE President-elect) Kim Green.

The message was very clear. If the special education formula is not adequately funded by the state, school district general funds throughout Minnesota will be raided to make up for the shortfall in state funding. There were several handouts provided that I will try to obtain in digital form to distribute to membership.

The conference committee will reconvene tomorrow with the meeting initally scheduled for 1:30 PM. Issues on the House floor will probably force the meeting start back a bit, but it is anticipated that the meeting will be held. The subject matter to be discussed are the policy and funding issues in the side-by-side bill comparison.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have regarding the conference committee as it continues its work. I can be reached at 612-220-7459.

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