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School funding task force begins set of public listening sessions in Northfield

The working group has crafted recommendations for school funding reform and will take their plans to meetings around the state.

A state task force looking at ways to reform the way Minnesota pays for schools will begin a series of public listening sessions with a meeting Thursday night in Northfield.

The Education Finance Working Group, appointed by Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, has been working for months on suggestions for reform, which Gov. Mark Dayton will then take to the Legislature.

Now the working group is going on the road to share its findings and hear directly from people around the state.

In announcing the meetings, state officials say changes are needed, because:

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“an increasingly diverse student body and the demand to create a competitive workforce is placing greater demands than ever on Minnesota schools. At the same time, the way schools are funded hasn’t been modified in more than two decades and has become heavily reliant on property taxes just to keep pace with rising costs of transportation and staff, the need for new technology and maintenance of outdated facilities and equipment.”

Meetings scheduled so far are:

  • Thursday, 6 to 8 p.m., in North Branch, Room 126 North Branch Area Education Center
  • Oct. 5, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., in Roseville, the TIES Building, 1667 Snelling Ave. N.
  • Oct. 15, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., in Rochester, at the Wood Lake Meeting Center, 210 Wood Lake Drive SE
  • Oct. 16, 3 to 5 p.m., in Fergus Falls, 1001 E. Mount Faith Ave.
  • Oct. 24, 6 to 8 p.m., in Apple Valley at the Falcon Ridge Middle School.