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A look at the numbers should tell pols it’s time to cut schools slack

June 6, 2012
Marshall Independent

y the time next legislative session rolls around, we're sure to be seeing some new faces at the Capitol. But whoever is voted in, we urge them, both Republicans and Democrats, to leave our schools alone when it comes time to negotiate and deal with what is sure to be another massive deficit.

Minnesota's public schools are already owed more than $2 billion from the state that's to what has become known as the school shift - what basically amounts to an accounting gimmick used to balance the budget. According to Our Future Minnesota, a non-profit formed in November that works with students, parents and families to advocate for fair revenue to support kids and communities, the Marshall School District alone is currently waiting for $6.8 million from the state - $6,873,584 to be precise, but who's counting? The Legislature has started using school shifts as a crutch to balance the state's budget and is getting away with it. This has to stop. The $2.4 billion already owed to the schools is the largest amount yet, according to a study done by Our Future Minnesota.

Education funding continues to decrease as the cost of providing education increases - adjusting for inflation, students in Minnesota are now getting $727 less from the per pupil formula than they did in 2008 (a 7 percent decrease), the study said. This forces each school to decide which finger to cut off - do they eliminate programs, do they lay off good teachers, or do they go back to the well and ask taxpayers to chip in through levies? That would go over well next year, wouldn't it?

Taking from schools means taking from our students and possibly - depending on how schools plan to deal with less help from the state - from middle class families that don't need to see their property taxes go up again with another levy.

School shifts have to stop sometime - it would be nice to see it happen during the next session. We hope whoever is headed to St. Paul will see to it that it does.



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