Windom, MN- The House Education Finance Committee held its first public field hearing on Friday, February 22 at Windom Middle High School. Committee members listened to public testimony from students, school board members, educators, and administrators.
Below is a recap of the hearing.
Parker Bramstedt, a student at Windom High School, praised the trade skills classes offered and urged the continuation of these invaluable investments to Minnesota’s workforce and economy.
Eliana Tade, a senior at Windom Middle High shared her postsecondary plans to become a public school teacher. This was in part due to having taken a dual enrollment Intro to Education course as part of her high school experience. She expressed gratitude for the opportunity, and highlighted its importance as a young woman of color to having teachers of color in Minnesota classrooms.
The Education Finance Committee discussed two bills related to operating referendums and debt service equalizations for public school funding.
Representative John Huot (DFL-Rosemount) presented legislation to increase the operating referendum equalization aid, which is designed to provide districts with more help on the per-pupil levy.
“The quality of our schools should not depend on the zip code you live in,” said Rep. Huot. “All children deserve a world-class education and I’m committed to ensuring our educators and staff in District 196 and across the state have the tools to deliver that level of quality.”
Dawn Teerink, a first grade teacher in Worthington expressed concerns about lack of space for students and lack of staff for students with special and English language learning needs. She shared testimony that due to a significantly crowded lunchroom space, fourth grade students have to wait until 1:00 p.m. to eat lunch.
Representative Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee) presented HF 1142, which would expand the number of school districts who qualify for state debt service equalization aid. This type of aid is statutorily designated for schools shouldering a massive debt load.
“An extraordinary burden is being placed on taxpayers of growing suburban and Greater Minnesota school districts to fund facilities that delivers every child fair access to education,” said Rep. Tabke. “I am proud this bill will help struggling districts pay for the facilities they need."
Both bills passed on a voice vote and were referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.