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Skogen effort reduces mandates on schools

On Monday, April 6, the Minnesota Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that relieves cities, counties and school districts from dozens of state-imposed mandates. The bill was based on a session-long effort to identify costly mandates that could be repealed without jeopardizing the safety, efficiency or effectiveness of government services. Sen. Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt, served as the Senate's lead on the removal of unnecessary mandates on school districts.

"This session, I have worked closely with education groups from across the state on compiling a list of mandates that school districts face," Skogen said. "What we found were many different hoops that schools are forced to jump through that either aren't achieving their original purpose or are simply outdated. By removing these mandates, we put more control in the hands of local school board members and allow more education funding to go directly into the classroom."

Notable mandates eliminated or altered in the bill include:

• Report elimination: The bill reduces numerous report requirements for districts including: "Annual Report on Curriculum, Instruction and Student Achievement," "Revenue, Expenditure, Fund Balances and Other Relevant Budget Information" and the Review and Comment Report from the Commissioner of Education. Summaries (not the full reports) must be published in local newspapers.

• Review, comment and consultation: This provision increases the estimated cost of a capital project from $250,000 to $500,000 requiring a district to consult with the Commissioner of Education.

• Community Education Director: Increases the population threshold from 2,000 to 4,000 for communities eligible for an exception for the requirement to have a licensed community education director for local programming. The provision includes a licensed teacher eligible to serve in that capacity if the community meets the population threshold.

• Safe Schools Levy: Repeals the maintenance of effort requirement that a district's total spending on services related to counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and alcohol and chemical-dependency counselors is not less than expenditures in the previous year.

"This is a difficult time for our state, and the need to 'get back to basics' has never been higher," Skogen. said "Although this legislation does not save the state money, it will have a major impact on local units of government and schools, saving both time and money."

For more information, contact Skogen at (651) 296-5655 or