Dear District 196 Parents,
If legislative proposals currently being considered by the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives are enacted, our district could face up to $20 million in cuts and other budget adjustments over the next three years!
State leaders have not made final decisions yet, but time is running out. You can make a big difference by simply making a couple of quick phone calls or sending a short message to your local legislators and state legislative leaders in the next few days; contact information is included at the bottom of this letter. All we are asking is that public schools receive inflationary increases of at least 2 percent to the basic education funding formula in each of the next two years.
Despite having a budget surplus of $1.65 billion, majority leaders in the Senate and House have proposed annual increases of just 1.5 percent and 1.25 percent, respectively, to the basic education funding formula. The governor's budget proposal would provide public schools with funding increases of 2 percent per year on the basic formula.
Our schools are still recovering from years of under-funding by the state. Since 2003, basic state funding for education has averaged less than 1.5 percent per year. In four of those years, there was no increase (0 percent) and state leaders borrowed money from schools in order to balance the state budget. These actions resulted in significant cuts to school staffing and programs, and an increase in levy referendum elections and local property taxes all across the state.
In District 196, we made cuts and other budget adjustments totaling $34 million from 2009 to 2012. These included the elimination of nearly 200 teaching, administrative and support staff positions; reduced transportation service to and from school; elimination of activity buses for after-school programs and increased student activity fees. We also implemented salary freezes and reduced overall employee costs in consecutive years.
In 2013, district voters approved a local operating levy to stop the run of ongoing budget cuts. With the successful referendum, we promised voters no additional cuts for at least two years, but none of the previous cuts were restored. It has been four years since the levy and no additional cuts have been made. That will change for next year, however, as we prepare to make $3 million in budget adjustments that will include a combination of District Office staffing reductions, cuts to curriculum expenditures and professional development, and revenue enhancements.
If the legislature does not approve funding increases of at least 2 percent for the next two years, we will face much more significant cuts that will include fewer staff and reduced opportunities for students in the very near future.
District 196 taxpayers have done their part to support quality schools by approving increases in local funding, when needed. Please consider contacting your local legislators and/or state legislative leaders to ask that the state do its fair share in funding our children's education by approving increases of at least 2 percent per year for the next two years.
Jane K. Berenz, superintendent
Legislators Representing District 196
DISTRICT 51 (Burnsville and Eagan)
Sen. Jim Carlson, 651-297-8073, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Sandra Masin (51A), 651-296-3533, email@example.com
Rep. Laurie Halverson (51B), 651-296-4128, firstname.lastname@example.org
DISTRICT 52 (Eagan and Inver Grove Heights)
Sen. Matt Klein, 651-296-4370, email@example.com
Rep. Regina Barr (52B), 651-296-4192, firstname.lastname@example.org
DISTRICT 56 (Burnsville)
Sen. Dan Hall, 651-296-5975, email@example.com
Rep. Drew Christensen (56A), 651-296-4212, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Roz Peterson (56B), 651-296-5387, email@example.com
DISTRICT 57 (Apple Valley, Coates, Lakeville and Rosemount)
Sen. Greg Clausen, 651-296-4120, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Erin Maye Quade (57A), 651-297-9001, email@example.com
Rep. Anna Wills (57B), 651-296-4306, firstname.lastname@example.org
DISTRICT 58 (Farmington, Lakeville and Empire and Vermillion Townships)
Sen. Matt Little, 651-296-5252, email@example.com
Rep. Jon Koznick (58A), 651-296-6926, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Pat Garofalo (58B), 651-296-1069, email@example.com
Sen. Paul Gazelka, majority leader, 651-296-4875
Sen. Eric Pratt, asst. majority leader and E-12 policy chair, 651-296-4123, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Carla Nelson, E-12 finance chair, 651-296-4848, email@example.com
Sen. Thomas Bakk, minority leader, 651-296-8881
Rep. Kurt Daudt, speaker of the House, 651-296-5364, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Joyce Peppin, majority leader, 651-296-7806, email@example.com
Rep. Jenifer Loon, education finance chair, 651-296-7449, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Melissa Hortman, minority leader, 651-296-4280, email@example.com