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Some school mandates could go

Published (3/13/2009)
By Kris Berggren
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School before Labor Day is back on the table.

The House K-12 Education Finance Division significantly amended a bill March 12 that would eliminate unnecessary mandates.

When HF920, sponsored by Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL-Fridley), was approved by the House K-12 Education Policy and Oversight Committee on March 5, the bill addressed several reporting requirements that could save districts money.

But the bill’s substance changed with the addition of two amendments: one offered by Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) that would permit school districts to start before Labor Day for the next two school years, and another offered by Rep. Denise Dittrich (DFL-Champlin) that would postpone by one year school districts’ requirement to implement revised standards in the arts, science, language arts and social studies as a cost-saving measure. The bill was approved as amended and held over for possible inclusion in an omnibus education finance bill.

According to the bill’s sponsor, the bill resulted from a bipartisan work group commissioned to help school districts save money by eliminating unnecessary and costly rules. Special education mandates, the subject of a separate task force, were excluded.

Tillberry estimated, for example, the Wayzata school district would save $100,000 if the bill is enacted.

“If you multiply that out statewide, this does something for schools, and that is what the work group assigned us to do, to allow schools to find some money,” he said.

The companion, SF1396, is sponsored by Sen. Dan Skogen (DFL-Hewitt) and awaits action in the Senate Education Committee.

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