New education bill will help the local school district

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 07/22/97.

Local school administrators are still researching the impact of the 1997 K-12 education bill approved by the Minnesota Legislature during a special session.

Howard Caldwell, Paynesville Area School District Superintendent, said the foundation aid formula was increased to $3,581 per student. This adds up to $76 more per student for the district.

Another windfall for the district is compensatory revenue, Caldwell said. ďThis is a new piece of legislation this year. In the past, the districts were compensated according to the number of AFDC students in the district. Under the new law, the district will be compensated according to the number of students who receive free and reduced meals,Ē he added.

Caldwell feels this is a positive piece of legislation for districts. According to the education bill, the compensatory revenue must be allocated to the sites where the children generating the revenue are served. So instead of the money going directly into the general fund, the revenue will be allocated between the middle school, high school and elementary school. Caldwell isnít sure how much additional revenue the district will receive as a result of this legislation, but there is a $20,000 cap on the amount.

Another item in the education bill the district appreciated was repealing the cap on the excess fund balance. As of July 1, 1998 the districts wonít be penalized if they have an excess. ďWe really appreciate this part of the legislation at this point in time,Ē Caldwell said.

In the last few years the district has added several programs to help keep the fund balance at or near the cap. Programs added include Spanish, updating the computer labs, the Tech Prep program, and adding sections to keep elementary class sizes down.

One piece of legislation school districts are concerned about involves adding three extra days to the school calendar. ďThe three days were repealed for this school year but districts will need to look at adding the days for the 1998-99 school year.

ďI donít feel this is a good piece of legislation. We donít need more student-teacher contact days, but more days to provide teachers with training so they can stay current and informed,Ē Caldwell said.

Caldwell said the transportation funding will be seeing a change in the 1998-99 school year. The special needs transportation funding will be rolled into the special education funding package. At present it is with the transportation account.

Caldwell added the education bill includes a lot of specialized areas which wonít impact the Paynesville Area School District.

Return to Archives