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Inequities in Minnesota school levies: another view

Your Humble Blogger is on the road this week, but I want to make sure that those of you who are big enough education policy geeks to have read and digested Tuesday’s story on inequities in school levies are aware of an alternative, considered viewpoint.

As executive director of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, Scott Croonquist is in an excellent position to know that whenever school finance is the topic, there are wrinkles upon wrinkles. He writes:

“While I wouldn’t quibble with many of the points [in the Tuesday story], as is usually the case when it comes to education funding, there is more to the story.  I am attaching two reports that may shed some additional light on the topic that you may find interesting. 

“The Hamline report [PDF] includes an analysis of regional cost differences in Minnesota and shows that a large part of the higher referendums in the metro area are covering a higher cost of living — they are not actually providing additional educational opportunities for the students in those districts.

“The Minnesota Department of Revenue analysis [PDF] shows that the taxpayers in many of these school districts with higher referendums are paying a higher share of their income in local property taxes than other taxpayers.”

I daresay both the sources for my Tuesday piece and Croonquist would agree that, ultimately, Minnesota school districts should be less dependent on local levies and better funded at the state level — the proposed solution recommended by a state-level task force last spring.

Wouldn’t it be astonishing if we never had to read the words “inequitable” and “education” in the same sentence again?

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/20/2011 - 05:01 pm.

    While the state is constitutionally mandated to provide a system for public education, with funding obviously being a piece of that mandate, allowing the local stakeholders to provide the bulk of the operating funds will ensure they retain control.

    Levy referendums are the only time districts are forced to explain what they have been doing, and what they wish to do in a way that the folks that are most directly effected can understand.

    It is an opportunity for people to ask their school leaders to account for the investment they receive.

    My local district (Mendota) is one of those asking for money. I’ve contacted them with specific questions, and let them know I’ll not be voting “yes” until they are answered to my satisfaction. *That* is control.

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