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Legislative stall is impacting area schools

Educators are calling for a special session to resolve the issue of special education funding.

Gregg Parks.JPG
Nevis Superintendent Gregg Parks expressed his concerns about the need for a special session.
Enterprise file photo
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The failure of the Minnesota State Legislature to pass an E-12 Education Supplemental Budget bill, which addresses the massive special education funding shortfall before the session ended, is impacting area schools.

“During this time period of unprecedented surplus for the state, it is unbelievable our state representatives walked away without helping schools,” Nevis Superintendent Gregg Parks said. “As a result, school districts are required to use general fund dollars to support special education. In a recent survey, 87% of schools indicated the rapidly rising costs associated with education will lead to a budget shortfall this year.”

According to the table provided by the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA), the adjusted net cross subsidy for the Park Rapids district is $1,636,599, in Menahga $1,000,198, Nevis $361,272, Laporte $283,228 and Pine Point $57,851.

Deb Henton from the MASA sent a news release to May 25 urging education groups to call on the governor and legislators to convene a special session to approve the E-12 supplemental funding bill.

According to her news release, districts statewide face more than $822 million in special education funding shortfalls as the direct result of the state not funding mandated special education services.

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Henton reported the governor and legislative leaders committed to a budget framework that included $1 billion for E-12 Education but lawmakers adjourned without fulfilling that commitment.

The state’s leading education associations are calling on the governor and legislators to return to the Capitol to finish their work. If they don’t, school districts are forced to cover the shortfall by redirecting funds meant for all students.

Henton’s news release said failure to approve supplemental funding would result in significant budget cuts and staff layoffs for school districts throughout the state. A recent statewide survey shows that 87% of districts that responded project a deficit in the 2022-23 school year, partly due to rising inflation.

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Nevis School is winding up summer activities and getting ready to start the new school year.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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