There is no school today in the Minneapolis School District, after months of negotiations that did not result in a collective agreement between Minneapolis public schools and educators’ unions. The issues for the union are higher wages, smaller class sizes and mental health support in the district. The Minneapolis Public School District responded that there was no more money to spend in the face of declining enrollment, which means less funding from the state of Minnesota.
State Senator Rich Draheim believes the state has done its part and more.
Senator Draheim said that in his six years in the Senate, public spending on education has increased by what he called “quite a lot.” And, he said, the state is just a source of revenue for school districts.
The state provides approximately 70% of the funding to each district each year. The senator said that there is also money that comes from the federal government every year, although he pointed out that this particular revenue stream does not usually provide the money that was promised, and of course, each school district receives money through local property tax levies. as well as.
Draheim expressed some frustration that he is constantly told that the state does not fully fund education, but he is never presented with a definition to his liking of what “fully funded” means.
“Over the past six years, we have increased spending on K-12. Every year, after increasing spending, we always get “You must fully fund education”. And they will never give us a definition of “fully funded”. I don’t think you’ll ever see us “fully fund” education, because it’s a moving target every year. »
While discussing education, the senator also said he introduced a bill in the Senate that would require teachers and schools to make it easier for parents to see the curriculum being taught to their children in the classroom.
“There is already a law that allows parents to get information about what children are learning,” he said. “We take it a step further where there needs to be online availability for a plan or program.”
Draheim said the goal was to help parents become more engaged. Some Minnesota state school districts, he said, only graduate 50% of their students. He believes this bill will help parents understand what their students are being taught and therefore make them more helpful in the process.
Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Senator Rich Draheim can be heard here
Lippert bills benefit rural areas
Rep. Todd Lippert introduced a pair of bills in the Minnesota House of Representatives designed to help health and
economic well-being of rural Minnesotans.
The first bill would establish a protocol through the Minnesota Department of Health that would provide for water testing at private wells. About 1.2 million Minnesotans depend on a private well for their water, according to Lippert, but he said there are no safeguards in place. Untested well water can contain high levels of nitrates, arsenic, manganese, and even lead in some places. But for many people, it’s hard to know what’s in their well without a good testing program in place.
Lippert introduced the Private Well Testing and Remediation Act, which would establish a program within the Department of Health to provide grants to local and tribal governments to pay for contamination testing of private residential wells.
If the water is found to be contaminated, the bill would provide grants to help clean up or decontaminate, which Lippert says can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
“Everyone deserves to have clean water,” he said, “and this bill is about ensuring people in rural areas have equal access.”
Lippert also introduced legislation that, as he said, “will provide supply chain support for new crops.”
The representative said there is growing interest in crops such as Kernza, winter camelina, elderberry and many others which can act as excellent cover crops, help carbon sequestration and improve soil health, but also provide a profitable crop.
After some initial excitement over the use of these cultures, he said his bill will now give them the boost they need.
“These crops are about to be commercialized. What is needed now is support to market them. [People introducing] new products will speak of a “valley of death”. They start, there’s energy, and then there’s kind of an in-between period where they have to get financial support to scale up. And these cultures are at this point.
Lippert said the bill supporting the new crops got a very good hearing from the House Ag Committee last week, and his private wells bill was tabled by the House Health Finance and Policy Committee for possible consideration. inclusion in an omnibus bill later in the session.
Rich Larson’s full conversation with Rep Todd Lippert can be heard here
City offering advice to entrepreneurs and small businesses
The City of Northfield has partnered with the Twin Cities-based Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers to provide free, un-personalized support for entrepreneurs and small business owners in Northfield.
MCCD is an association of nonprofit community development organizations that seeks to provide assistance in developing strong neighborhoods supported by healthy small businesses. The organization encourages entrepreneurship by helping with strategic planning, tax information and accounting training, networking, and in some cases even loans and access to capital.
According to the MCCD website, the strength of the consortium lies in the diversity of its members. Organizational members include affordable housing developers, groups specializing in small business development, and others that focus on workforce development. Each member works in different areas of community development, but all members seek to direct economic and social resources to underserved communities.
Office hours in Northfield begin this month. To learn more about MCCD and to register to meet, please contact Yoni MK Reinharz, MCCD Business Advisor at [email protected].
Rich Larson is KYMN’s News Director. Contact him at [email protected]
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