Lawmakers Talk With Northlanders About Education Funding

Posted at: 08/19/2013 5:49 PM | Updated at: 08/19/2013 10:46 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Education was a big focus for legislatures this spring; about $485 million in new spending was approved in Minnesota.

Lawmakers held a roundtable discussion Monday to talk about how the new money will affect Northland school districts.

"It doesn't solve all the problems," Duluth School District Superintendent Bill Gronseth said. "It takes a lot of steps in the right direction, but it certainly doesn't give us a solid future just by itself."

One concern for some people at the meeting was the district's graduation rate. The overall four-year, on-time grad rate in 2012 was 67 percent.

"If you want to know what a system does, look at how it produces," Rogier Gregoire said. "A cooperation, or an industry or federal government program that had a failure rate of 30 percent would not exist. That's what the failure rate is for the public schools in Duluth, Minnesota."

Gronseth said the district is working to improve those numbers and some of the legislative changes may help them do that.

A group of students were also at the Monday meeting. They are with Students for the Future.

"We are students form ISD 709 who work together to combat issues by raising awareness and giving students a voice within the school and community," Duluth East senior Billy Menor said.

"I think it was an effective discussion," Duluth East student Erik Thibault said. "I think a lot of good questions were answered. I hope it really cleared some things up for the community."

Big highlights in the 2013 bill include a funding formula increase of 234 million dollars in each of the next two years. It also pays for all day, every day kindergarten. Legislatures said testing will also change to better prepare students for college.

Lawmakers called the bill a historic investment in education reversing the cuts and borrowing that took place in recent years.

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