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School board representation change

Published (3/28/2008)
By Brian Hogenson
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One of the state’s largest school districts could receive a significant redesign to better represent its large and diverse population.

Passed 91-42 by the House on March 25, HF1394/SF457* would require the Bloomington Public School District to establish single-member election districts in order to prevent one area of the district from being overly represented on the school board. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington), the House sponsor, said that unequal representation has been a recurring problem in the district. All members now serve at-large, but six of the seven live on one side of the city.

“For school boards, we need to make sure we represent all kids in the school district,” Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) said.

Lenczewski said the school board would have identical lines as those used for the city council, which consists of four single-seat election districts with three at-large seats.

If the bill is signed into law and the district fails to approve the changes by resolution, the issue will be presented to voters at the 2010 general election. Otherwise, the changes will take effect in 2013.

Critics of the bill view it as another opportunity for state government to step on the toes of local residents and lawmakers.

“If you truly are an advocate of local control then let the locals in Bloomington take care of it,” said Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan).

The bill was approved 41-18 by the Senate March 17. Sen. Dan Larson (DFL-Bloomington) is the Senate sponsor.

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