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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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Friday, March 25, 2011
ST. PAUL – After reviewing the latest House K-12 Education funding proposal, State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Nelson Township) said it appears rural schools will benefit from increased funding. “For far too long, students in inner city schools have received greater funding from the state when compared to kids from rural Minnesota,” Torkelson said. “There’s no reason a student from Minneapolis should be worth more than a student from a rural Minnesota school district, and this bill looks to narrow this funding disparity.” Torkelson said the proposal fulfills the House commitment to protect classroom funding as a priority even as the Legislature attempts to eliminate a projected $5.1 billion budget deficit. The plan raises per-pupil funding by $86 in years 2012-13 and $40 in 2014. It also adds funding for smaller schools with less than one thousand students. The bill also focuses on education reform. Some provisions include relieving the districts of state-imposed mandates, and repealing the integration aid program and redistributing that money to the per-pupil formula to benefit every student across the state. “The integration funding program is universally seen as ineffective,” Torkelson said. “Moving this funding to the general formula lets districts spend it as they see best, not on a state-mandated and ineffective program. The benefit of these reforms is a better K-12 education system that gives us more for our money and a new foundation going forward.”