School heads criticize funding system

/ 5 March 2008 / jennifer
Megan Boldt, Pioneer Press, March 05, 2008 –

More than 99 percent of Minnesota school superintendents who responded to a survey said the state’s education funding system is broken. And if that funding system isn’t fixed, almost 90 percent said, the quality of education in the state will continue to decline.

Survey results were released Wednesday by Minnesota 2020, a left-leaning think tank. The group surveyed superintendents across the state in December and January. More than half of the state’s 321 chief administrators responded.

The survey also revealed that more than two-thirds of Minnesota school districts that failed to pass operating levies in November plan to go to voters again this fall.

According to districts that had unsuccessful levy attempts:

— They will, on average, lay off seven teachers because of anticipated budget cuts.

— More than 15 percent of their operating budgets come from voter-approved tax levies.

— Eighty-six percent plan another levy referendum within three years.

About two-thirds of the 99 Minnesota school districts that requested approval of operating levies in November passed at least one ballot measure. Some of those were requests to renew current funding, not to increase funding.

About 65 percent of superintendents surveyed said the state should foot the entire bill for education and not force districts to rely on local property taxes.

Minnesota Education Commissioner Alice Seagren said 78 percent of K-12 education funding comes from the state.

(Read the release.)