Panel hears input on local school bill

Elk River Area School Board Chair Jolene Jorgensen and Director of Research and Assessment Joe Stangler asked the Minnesota House Education Finance Committee Wednesday, March 12, to support House File 2625. The two, along with bill sponsor Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, asked that an existing law be amended. If signed into law, the Elk River Area School District would receive approximately $100,000 in new state funding.

Joe Stangler testified as Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, watched.

The bill and testimony are aligned to the district’s 2012 legislative platform and continuing effort to seek equitable funding for the district. HF-2625 and its companion bill in the Senate (SF-2207) are the fourth Elk River Area School District equity funding bills in three years to be introduced. If passed, the funding would be used to support district strategic plan initiatives.

Jorgensen and Stangler told legislators that current law provides additional funds to school districts whose central office is located in the seven-county metro area, which includes Hennepin and Anoka counties. If the Elk River Area School District central office was located in either of these counties at the time the law was enacted, the district would receive approximately $400,000 in additional equity funding annually from the state.

The school district office is located in Sherburne County; however, according to Stangler, more than 25 percent of its students live in Hennepin or Anoka counties.  He said that although more than 3,500 students live in one of the seven-metro counties, the district does not receive state funding for them. If equity funding was provided for these students, as the bill requests, the district would receive approximately $100,000 per year in additional state funds

Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, asked if there are other school districts with the same concerns as Elk River Area School District, as well as how state funding would be addressed.

As additional research is now needed, House Chair Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, laid the bill over for possible discussion later in the session.