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Task force sought to review ‘cumbersome’ school financing system

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The state’s school finance system has become cumbersome and inefficient, according to Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City).

“We have (complicated) how we fund schools,” he told the House Education Innovation Policy Committee Tuesday. “We can do a better job.”

Urdahl sponsors HF149, which would establish a school finance task force to propose changes for Minnesota’s school funding system. The group would adopt goals to make school finance formulas more equitable and efficient, while identifying changes that need to be made. No fiscal note was provided.

Approved by the committee, it now heads to the House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee. It has no Senate companion.

“The system has become too complex. It’s good to periodically look at how we fund schools and how things got to where they are now,” said Brad Lundell, executive director of Schools for Equity in Education. “It’s good to clean the barnacles off the hull.”

“We always add [funding provisions] on and never seem to take anything off. It makes it very confusing for the public and for school board members to share what’s going on,” said Grace Keliher, director of government relations with the Minnesota School Boards Association.

The task force would consist of 15 members, with the governor, the House Education Finance Committee and the Senate education committee each appointing five nominees. Each member would be permanent until the group sunsets.

The Department of Education would review recommendations and submit them in a report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2018, and again on Jan. 1, 2020. The task force would disband at that point. 

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