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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 9, 2018

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

A heartfelt “Thank You” to all of our educators!

I love teaching because watching kids learn is truly joyous. I teach because I believe that kids can do anything with a little encouragement. I teach because sharing knowledge is the key to building communities that are respectful, responsible, productive and thriving. I teach because I know I make an impact and feel blessed every day that this was the talent I was given.



As a member of the Education Policy Committee, I’ve listened and learned of the need for adequate funding to ensure that our school districts are able to provide the best education for every student from our earliest learners to our life-long learners. As an educator myself, I’ve lived through the panic that comes every Spring as my school district reevaluates their financial ability to provide the personnel and services needed for the next school year. In the school district that I have taught in for these past 20+ years, we will be operating on a $10.6 million deficit for the 2018-19 school year.

As your legislator, I’m working to keep more teachers in our classrooms, keep class sizes down, and give more students opportunities to succeed. That’s where we should commit ourselves - helping schools, teachers, and students do better.

Unfortunately, according to survey data collected by the Association of Metro School Districts and the Minnesota Rural Education Association, 59 Minnesota school districts are facing budget deficits in the coming year. According to the Association of Metro School Districts, 26 school districts in the metropolitan area are facing deficits that could lead to hundreds of teacher layoffs. According to the Minnesota Rural Education Association, at least 33 school districts in Greater Minnesota will be eliminating staff due to budget deficits, including a total of 85 teachers and 75 non-licensed staff across these 33 districts.

This problem hits close to home as Columbia Heights is facing a $400,000 budget shortfall in 2018-2019, resulting in faculty and staff layoffs and many other austerity efforts.

It is the responsibility of the Minnesota Legislature to provide the necessary funds for our students. Unfortunately, they haven’t fully funded our schools in decades to meet the costs of mandated services and inflation. Across Minnesota, state aid has not kept pace with the rising cost of ensuring excellent educations for every Minnesota student. A recent study from the North Star Policy Institute demonstrates how real funding for each Minnesota student dropped by $2,000 from 2003 to 2012.

That’s why I fully support Governor Dayton’s Emergency School Aid plan to secure funding for Minnesota schools that will increase funding by $126 per student, but that still leaves Minnesota schools forced to do more with significantly less funding per student than they had 15 years ago.
Thank you to the more than 56,000 Minnesotans who are teachers; your efforts on behalf of our students is very much appreciated!

I am so proud of Kelly D. Holstine, an English teacher at Tokata Learning Center, named the 2018 Minnesota's Teacher of the Year by Education Minnesota.

Watch a short video with my message to Minnesota’s teachers by clicking here.

All the best,
Mary KP

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