"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Monday, March 10th, 2014
Volume ∞ Issue ∞
- 8:58:49, Mar 10th 2014 - dan - Great letter Steve! That is attitude we should be taking, alternatives will be ... [Read More]
- 3:44:17, Mar 7th 2014 - Robert - Fossil fuels are damaging are resources, polluting are air & water and destr ... [Read More]
- 12:32:02, Mar 7th 2014 - - "Turks suffered at the hands of Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia. Hundreds of thousand ... [Read More]
- 7:38:38, Mar 5th 2014 - bootscoot21 - Thank you Dr. Van Gorp for this complete look at what our generation is ... [Read More]
- 8:39:53, Mar 4th 2014 - firstname.lastname@example.org - Excellent commentary, very thoughtful. Although quite len ... [Read More]
- 9:54:09, Mar 1st 2014 - - We have lost a good friend from Harmony High school class of 1970. I have many goo ... [Read More]
- 9:48:08, Mar 1st 2014 - - Rest in Peace Loenard ... [Read More]
- 9:14:19, Feb 25th 2014 - email@example.com - Eric, I don't know if you remember me but I am Erik Paulsen's M ... [Read More]
- 8:58:12, Feb 25th 2014 - jjoyengel - You are both wonderful people! You have and are doing something not just ... [Read More]
- 3:16:25, Feb 24th 2014 - TY - THANK YOU FCJ! I am not sure any of this would have happened without the excelle ... [Read More]
Fri, Mar 14th, 2003
Posted in Features
Posted in Features
Governor Tim Pawlenty has managed to cut a broad swath across Minnesota’s state budget, leaving only one area untouched: K-12 education. This should bring sighs of relief to Fillmore County school districts, but local superintendents find it difficult to look upon the Governor’s actions as a gift.
Superintendent Mike Moriarity of Mabel-Canton calls the Governor’s decision a "misnomer," noting that "no increase is basically a cut. Even if you don’t cut, inflationary factors will create a cut." Other superintendents echoed Moriarity’s statement, adding that expenditures for such items as utilities, insurance, and supplies will increase, creating budget problems. There are also subtle changes in some areas of school funding that may have gone unnoticed by the public. Lanesboro School’s Superintendent Rick Lamon notes that "if you had excess funds in community education, they took those." Moriarity points out that annual increases in special education, which had been legislated to occur over the next two years, have been frozen. The freeze comes at a time when every area school faces a trend in declining enrollment. More than one superintendent recognized the trend as statewide, with approximately 80% of school districts in Minnesota facing a smaller kindergarten class than the current graduating senior class. And at a time when no new money comes from the state, "declining enrollment becomes a bigger issue," Fillmore Central Superintendent Myrna Luehmann notes. The enrollment figures vary from school to school, with Lanesboro’s student numbers projected to remain the same. However, Lamon quickly points out that this year is the exception. Other districts stand to "lose" a large part of their budgets when this year’s seniors graduate: Fillmore-Central will lose 32 students; Kingsland 40 students; Mabel-Canton 20 students; and Rushford-Peterson 20 students. While the state will continue to fund students at up to $4601, it doesn’t take a math wizard to do the math. At Fillmore Central, Luehman knows it means $150-180,000 less money to operate with, but the state that promised no cuts in funding is forcing Fillmore Central and other districts to make some tough decisions in the next month. Luehman admits, "We’re going to be reducing staff," but acknowledges that then "you get into a whole new issue." Not only do school boards face the problem of deciding where to make the cuts, but they recognize the double-edged sword their decision creates: Minnesota law provides for students to attend other schools through open enrollment, or even attend college through the post-secondary education option. Both options mean more dollars lost. School administrators recognize that their positions could be even worse. Luehmann is "thankful that we were not hit as hard as health and human services." Rushford-Peterson’s Superintendent David U’Ren "appreciates" Governor Pawlenty’s position, adding that it "isn’t as positive as we would like, but isn’t as negative as it could be." Administrators find it difficult to look much farther ahead than the upcoming school year to predict the future of the county’s schools. Lamon asks, "How do you get people to spend? We’re in a strange, strange economy. We’ve had a healthy economy for so long, it’s going to be different." Kingsland’s Superintendent Greg Ehresmann recognizes "we’re not going to be able to look to the state government for help." Anyone looking closely at the Governor’s plan will see "changing funding" for public schools. Ehresmann predicts "everything will fall on locals," but believes that school districts will continue "reflecting what local people value." At Fillmore Central, active committees have already been working on better ways to communicate with the public, which coincides with Superintendent Luehmann’s belief that "our schools need to market ourselves more." "I’m a very strong believer that a school district is a reflection of the community it serves,” Leuhmann said. “We will be what the community wants us to be."