Minnesota education funding shifts shortchange St. James


by John Fitzgerald July 17, 2009 • Staff Writer Matt McCabe of the St. James Plaindealer wrote a solid story about how Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s education funding shifts will affect the St. James school district.

Hindsight is the official blog of Minnesota 2020. Hindsight gives the run down on the news that jumps out at us on the issues that matter. Often times these stories show us how much further we need to go to have the progressive policy realized in Minnesota.

In brief, the district will see $2.4 million deferred in the upcoming school year. Superintendent Nordy Nelson told the school board that the district will likely have to “draw on borrowed money by late January or early February,” he said. “We’re going to run out of cash.”

At that same board meeting, school officials agreed to borrow $1.3 million to make up budget differences as well as “phasing in a closed campus proposal, enacting a trial period of 4-day weeks from January to March, 2010, and reducing supplies, swimming pool use, and transportation. In June, the board resorted to making personnel cuts including the position of Assistant Nurse,” McCabe wrote. In order to avoid further layoffs, Nelson will look at early retirements and contract settlements.

McCabe did a nice job of summarizing the twisted philosophy behind education budget deferrals. It took 10 years for districts to recover from a 10 percent shift initiated in Gov. Arne Carlson’s administration. Pawlenty’s moves make the situation far worse.

“This isn’t just a short-term problem,” Nelson said. “It’s really a shame for the young people of our state. They’re getting shortchanged and this will drag into years and years.”

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