Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Southeast Service Cooperative Annual Legislative Breakfast.  The Southeast Service Cooperative in conjunction with MASA Region 1 held its annual legislative breakfast on Saturday, February 1, at Rochester Century high school.  Suzanne Riley and the rest of the crew at the Southeast Service Cooperative always do a tremendous job putting together the program and this year was no exception.  Dover-Eyota Superintendent Bruce Klaehn and LeRoy-Ostrander Superintendent Steve Sallee coordinated the program with Klaehn doing his usual excellent job moderating the program and introducing the presenters.

Eight different superintendents gave presentations on a variety of issues facing Minnesota's education system.  Most of the discussion centered around funding issues--both thanking the legislators for the hard work done by the Legislature in 2013 and urging some corrections going forward--and the recently-released recommendations of the Schools Facilities Funding Working Group.  Lake City Superintendent Craig Junker led off with an excellent presentation on the importance and value of school funding to lead off the presentations.  He was followed by Faribault Superintendent Todd Sesker, Cannon Falls Superintendent Beth Giese, and Medford Superintendent Rich Dahman, who each spoke about different elements of location equity revenue.  Dahman spoke of the need to address the "Doughnut Hole" issue that affects districts that do not qualify (or qualify for very little) small schools revenue and do not qualify for location equity revenue.  The speakers who addressed the facilities issue were:  Rushford-Peterson Superintendent Chuck Ehler (need for funding to address natural disasters), Goodhue Superintendent Mike Redmond (need to expend alternative facilities and merge a number of the funding streams related to facilities), and Kasson-Mantorville Superintendent Mark Matuska (need to improve debt service equalization).  St. Charles Superintendent Mark Roubinek wrapped up the presentations with a request to ease some of the requirements relating to Type III drivers.

I am going to try to procure copies of some of the power points and post them on SEE website.

Twelve legislators attended the forum; six senators and six representatives.  They were:  Representative David Bly (Northfield), Representative Steve Drazkowski (Mazeppa), Representative John Petersburg (Waseca), Representative Kim Norton (Rochester), Representative Mike Benson (Rochester), Representative Jeanne Poppe (Austin), Senator Matt Schmit (Red Wing), Senator Vicki Jensen (Owatonna), Senator Dave Senjem (Rochester), Senator Kevin Dahle (Northfield) and Senator Dan Sparks (Austin).

So congratulations on a job well done by all the folks involved with this annual forum!  It is clearly one of the best legislative forums in the entire state as it is very well organized and allows both formal and informal exchanges between school officials and legislative officials.  I can hardly wait for the next one.

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