Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Tremendous Press Conference.  A press conference featuring parents, teachers, school board members, and school administrators was held yesterday and it was a rousing success.  The room was packed and the press coverage was solid (and positive).  The message delivered at the press conference is that the budget targets for education in the House and Senate are far too low to truly meet the needs of school districts throughout the state.  The presenters composed a broad range of education concerns (students, parents, school board members, teachers, and school administrators) all did an excellent job describing how at the proposed legislative budget targets, significant cuts will have to be made to programs throughout the state.  While the Governor's target is double that of the highest legislative target ($694 million to the Senate's $350 million), he dedicates half of his budget to a new program--universal pre-kindergarten programming--which won't protect current programs to a great extent.  Here's hoping the press conference has the desired effect and legislative leadership comes forward with a budget target that more closely mirrors what is needed for school districts throughout the state to meet their needs.

A lot of people helped plan the event and execute those plans flawlessly, but I think a big shout out should go to Chris Williams, the press secretary for Education Minnesota.  Chris is a former reporter with the Associated Press and his expertise was vital to the event's success.  It goes without saying that our friends at Parents United for Public Schools--most notably Mary Cecconi and Ann Hobbie--also did a fantastic job of mobilizing parents, which filled the room with concerned citizens, many holding signs with messages of clear concern.  To make this session a success for public education, more revenue is going to be needed in the budget targets and yesterday's press conference provided a clear message to legislator outlining that concern.

Conference Committee Begins Today.  The education funding and policy conference committee begins its work this afternoon.  With final budget targets yet to be determined, the initial meetings of the conference committee will likely be dedicated to the adoption of language items that are the same or similar in each bill and discussing provisions that are in one body's bill and not the other's.  In other words, slow going until the larger money decisions are made by leadership.  I will keep you up-to-date on the proceedings.

Here are the conferees:


Senator Chuck Wiger (Chair):  Bio

Senator LeRoy Stumpf:  Bio

Senator Kevin Dahle:  Bio

Senator Alice Johnson:  Bio

Senator Eric Pratt:  Bio


Representative Jenifer Loon (Chair):  Bio

Representative Sondra Erickson:  Bio

Representative Ron Kresha:  Bio

Representative Bob Dettmer:  Bio

Representative Roz Peterson:  Bio

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