Friday, January 18, 2008

Have Camera, Will Travel (But I Don't Have Paladin's Mustache). It was great to see some many of you at the annual Minnesota School Boards Association convention in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday and Friday. I ran into a number of SEE member delegations between meetings and other convention festivities. As promised, I showed up with my camera and took a few shots. On the left are Cambridge-Isanti board members Phil Rodriguez and Jane Skogman. In the pictures below, we see Jackie Magnuson (President-elect of the MSBA) and Joel Albright from the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school board talking with representatives of the Minnesota Dairy Council. Below them is a picture of Laurie Swanson and Cathy Storey from the White Bear Lake School District talking with Grand Marais school board member Mary Sanders.

The convention was highlighted (perhaps the wrong word) by the Governor's speech on Thursday. He didn't offer much in the way of optimism, saying that it would be difficult to envision any significant new revenue finding its way to school districts in the coming year. I am not going to use the blog to espouse any particular viewpoint, but it's pretty clear from the Governor's comments that the education community is going to have to work in a concerted and unified manner to change the expected direction of the upcoming legislative session.

PS Minnesota was also present at the convention.

I had the pleasure of joining Robin Smothers (who is heading up the PS Minnesota public relations effort) in a series of roundtable discussions that led off Friday's proceedings. Attendance at each of the 20-minute sessions was impressive, with a number of board members and district administrators standing because chairs were not available. The questions from participants were solid and there seemed to be levels of both interest and energy that would indicate that the desire for comprehensive education funding reform that provides more resources to schools and distributes them more fairly is growing. With the legislative task force poised to say more about comprehensive reform in the coming weeks, the time may have truly come for the kind of discussion that desperately needs to take place.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Just a Bit of an Update. Things are starting to get rolling. Both Houses of the Legislature have been holding hearings throughout the state in an effort to find out more about the issues facing local school districts.

Just such a hearing was held on Monday night in St. Peter when the Minnesota House of Representatives K-12 Funding Division met (The fuzzy individuals in the picture are members of the House Committee and to make it clear, their logic isn't fuzzy, but my camera skills are.) That's District 23A Representative Terry Morrow (D-St. Peter) and former St. Peter board member in the middle seated next to K-12 Funding Division Chair Mindy Greiling (D-Roseville).

St. Peter Superintendent Dr. Jeff Olson did a great job pointing out that a number of needs remain after the 2007 E-12 funding bill. Several members of the St. Peter School Board and the St. Peter School Administration also provided testimony.

Representative Tim Faust (D-Mora) and other members of the House K-12 Funding Division will be holding a roundtable discussion on school facility needs and funding in Mora on Tuesday, January 22, at 12:30 PM. The meeting will be held at Mora high school located at 400 East Maple Avenue.

I hope to see many of you at the Minnesota School Boards convention starting tomorrow. Perhaps my photography skills will have improved enough by then to click some quality candids for future blog entries.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's January, so It Must be Time to Start Blogging. I will be picking up the blog again starting today, so check back every couple of days for a new nugget or two. There are two items I wanted to pass along today.

Jeff van Wychen and John Fitzgerald have put together a nice piece on the Minnesota 2020 website. You may recall the Minnesota 2020's founder and chair Matt Entenza spoke at our December meeting. This new piece shows how property taxes are rising for school districts while revenue is actually flat or declining. The article can be found at:

The other item I want to include is a very good catch-all reference page for all of you political junkies out there. The site is Real Clear Politics and it's chock-full of polls and political articles. It can be found at:

As for New Hampshire (I know you are all just dying to know what I think), it's clear that organization counts for something and that the Clinton campaign organization is nothing to sneeze at. The hammering she took in the press leading up to New Hampshire also probably helped her. And the guys at her rally chanting "Iron my shirts!" may well have ignited some support for her in a backhanded sense.

On the "R" side of the ticket, McCain's performance was certainly impressive and it will be interesting to see if the boost he received in New Hampshire translates to success in Michigan and South Carolina. It's important to remember that Romney has spent a ton of money and a lot of it has gone into building a national presence with organizational structures in each state. Unless a tidal wave of McCain or Huckabee support washes out that structure, Romney can probably stay in the race longer than some now believe. Romney needs a win sooner or later, but if he keeps coming in second, he's going to be piling up delegates. That may not get him the nomination, but it may go a long way toward determining who does.