STMA reaches out to Sen. Kiffmeyer about funding

The St. Michael-Albertville School Board discussed its legislative funding plight with Minnesota Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake).

The board also took action on other issues at its regular meeting.



After summarizing the board’s work session where it approved legislative priorities (see separate article), the board discussed school funding with Minnesota Sen. Kiffmeyer, whose representation includes St. Michael-Albertville.

Kiffmeyer said she recognizes the challenges of disparity in funding in growing school districts. She said there is an entrenched educational funding methodology which has become increasing imbalanced during the years.

Board chairperson Doug Birk noted that STMA is currently 10th from the bottom of all state schools in terms of per pupil revenue. Birk said that since the property wealth equalization formula has not been revised since 1993, STMA property taxpayers share a greater burden. He said this gap is political and is not fair to students.

The board members asked Kiffmeyer for action to build awareness that every two years there is a fixed pool of money for schools, and the district is requesting even distribution of those dollars. Supt. Jim Behle encouraged Kiffmeyer to work with State Rep. David Fitzsimmons and Brad Lundell from Schools for Equity in Education (SEE) for additional information in reducing the gap in equity.

Behle stressed that this is not just a school issue, but rather a community issue, because if residents have to pay higher property taxes, it could have a negative impact on city economic development. He also told Kiffmeyer that STMA representatives would be at the Capitol with district supporters and SEE members Wednesday, April 3.

Kiffmeyer responded that she set a time to meet with Lundell from SEE. She also told the board that it would be important to be loud, and to use SEE to help raise awareness for those at the state.



In other news, Supt. Behle and athletic director Brian Benson presented the board with information about website advertising located on the booster club and coach web pages that are linked to the district website.

They said pages that have advertising range from $500 to $1,500 per activity and are used to offset the cost of printed event programs on the web page.

Behle said he would develop administrative roles.

He also said there is a provision in the policy that allows for advertising of school events on school property. Such signs will be allowed within seven days of the event. The board then approved the policy as amended.

In other action, the board:

HEARD a report from Albertville Primary School Principal Ann-Marie Foucault about the school. She said there are 12 half-day sections (223 students), 11 full-day sections (223) students and five Early Childhood Special Education sections.

APPROVED Quality Compensation (Q Comp) Aid as presented. Q Comp is a Minnesota program that permits school districts and Education Minnesota to design a teacher evaluation system, teacher performance incentive plan, alternative salary schedule, and teacher leadership and professional development plan.