2/14/2013 11:10:00 AM Education forum with legislators February 19 in North Branch
The all day, every day free or surcharge kindergarten debate is one fiscal hot potato tossed around by local school district officials lately, who are hestitant to offer the programming due to lack of funding. But if Governor Mark Dayton’s budget and taxing plan for the next couple years is adopted; this concern would become moot.
North Branch School officials achieved a preliminary consensus to offer free all day every day kindergarten next year. Chisago Lakes school board members were giving it on-going review this week. Forest Lake has announced free all day, every day K next year. Gov. Dayton is asking state lawmakers to increase per pupil funding by $72 in 2014 and by $339 in 2015. He plugs $40 million specifically over two years into supporting all day everyday K programming. The governor’s office reports that all day every day K is provided to only 54 percent of Minnesota students for free. Dayton’s funding package would extend it to 85 percent of youngsters for free.
North Branch saw a fiscal benefit at the end of last year and into this year as fuel and gas prices stabilized, retirements reduced wage liabilities. North Branch staff recommended to the school board at a recent work session to adopt all day every day K at its regular action meeting (tonight). The North Branch all day every day K will cost an estimated $344,000. According to analysis of the governor’s budget, North Branch will see an additional $800,000 over the next two years, with about $200,000 in the first year. Chisago Lakes’ Board was to meet Tuesday night, and may adopt some hybrid form of all day K. Chisago Lakes has been providing an all day every day K session for a limited number of enrollees, for an $2,700 annual fee. Chisago Lakes staff estimate it would cost about $300,000 in Chisago Lakes to provide the early educational opportunity. But right now the school board and administrators have also reviewed a $500,000 deficit looming in the district’s overall budget. Under the governor’s proposals Chisago Lakes would see an estimated $1.26 million in additional revenues in the next couple years.
FYI.... Area state lawmakers are holding a one-hour town hall to discuss Education issues in North Branch, Tuesday, February 19. The meeting starts at 7 p.m., at the North Branch Area High School. Legislators representing the local districts have declared their concerns about the governor’s goals in revising the state taxation system and opposition to his budget. Citizen feedback at this town hall, about funding educational priorities in Chisago county, could be beneficial early into the legislative session. Invited legislators for the town hall are Sen. Sean Nienow R-Cambridge, and Reps. Bob Barrett R-Lindstrom and Brian Johnson R-Cambridge. (Southeast Chisago county is also represented by Sen. Karin Housley R-Stillwater and Rep. Bob Dettmer R-Forest Lake.)