Legislative Advisory Council
The purpose of the Legislative Advisory Council (LAC) is to enhance community understanding of legislative proposals that impact District 196 and promote citizen involvement in the legislative process. LAC members provide input on the district’s legislative platform, reviews suggestions submitted by citizens and staff and, as appropriate, provides input to the School Board regarding proposed legislation.
The LAC is comprised of seven at-large citizen members with experience in government affairs lobbying and/or the legislative process, and one representative from each of the following District 196 advisory councils and committees who are direct stakeholders in the school district (e.g., a district resident, the parent or guardian of a district student, or a district employee):
- Budget Advisory Council
- Curriculum and Instruction Advisory Council
- Community Education Advisory Council
- Early Childhood Family Services Advisory Council
- Integration and Educational Equity Advisory Council
- Native American Parent Advisory Committee
- River Valley Project Explore Advisory Council
- Special Education Advisory Council
Tony Taschner, Director of Communications
The LAC holds at least four meetings each year, as determined by the council, and members communicate electronically between meetings. LAC meetings are open to the public.
Time: 6 p.m.
Dates: Meetings scheduled for the 2021-22 school year are as follows:
- November 10, 2021 (joint meeting with BAC to discuss priorities)
- December 15, 2021 (finalize priorities recommendation)
- March 2, 2022 - Apple Valley High School
- April 20, 2022
- May 25, 2022 (session wrap-up with local legislators)
- 2022 Legislative Session
- 2021 Legislative Session
- 2020 Legislative Session
- 2019 Legislative Session
- 2018 Legislative Session
The District 196 School Board and Legislative Advisory Council members believe the Legislature should take the following actions in the 2022 session to prioritize investment in E-12 education and equip schools with the resources and flexibility to help children and families through the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.
1. Provide ample, predictable and equalized funding for E-12 education
A. Index basic education funding to inflation
The Situation: The general education formula allowance is the single biggest source of funding school districts receive from the state, accounting for approximately 70% of general fund revenues in District 196. Since 2003, general education funding has lagged the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation by $798 per pupil or 11.6%.
Our Ask: Index the general education formula allowance to the annual rate of inflation (CPI) to ensure school districts would receive at least inflationary funding increases each year.
B. Increase equalization aid and index the aid formulas for growth
The Situation: Equalization aid was created to equalize the impact of school taxes on homeowners in districts with lower percentages of commercial/industrial property value. However, the equalization aid formulas are not indexed for growth, so they provide less equalization aid as total property values grow.
Our Asks: Increase equalization of the operating referendum, local optional and debt service levies, and index the formulas for growth in property value.
C. Address unfunded special education costs
The Situation: Minnesota continues to be last in the nation in achievement gaps for students of color and American Indian students, and the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated these unacceptable gaps. Rates of chronic absenteeism and students receiving a “no grade” for a class increased significantly in District 196 during the pandemic-disrupted 2020-21 school year and students of color represented a disproportionately large percentage of the increases.
Our Asks: Provide new targeted funding to address the needs of students and families disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and continue to support and increase funding for Achievement and Integration and other programs that provide targeted support to students of color and American Indian students and families.
2. Reduce mandates and increase local control
The Situation: Many existing state mandates are unfunded or under-funded, and have unnecessary paperwork and reporting requirements that take time away from adults working with students.
Our Asks: Reduce unnecessary mandates, oppose any new unfunded mandates, and increase local control and flexibility to respond to changing conditions. Examples include but are not limited to the following:
- Allow school districts to establish school calendars that best meet the needs of their community;
- Authorize school boards to renew existing operating levies at the same or amount, and
- Allow school districts to charge for all costs associated with locating, compiling, redacting and copying data in response to requests to inspect or receive copies of government data.
3. Support a diverse and sustainable workforce of teachers and staff
The Situation: The ability of schools to educate students and keep them safe relies on the teachers and other caring adults who work in our schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has created workforce issues in almost every industry, but education has been hit particularly hard with a shortage of teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers and other support staff needed to provide mission-critical services like transportation, food service and teaching. In addition, District 196 and all Minnesota school districts need to increase teachers of color to be more representative of the students they serve.
- Dedicate additional funding for programs designed to increase the number of teachers of color in Minnesota schools and entering teacher prep programs;
- Maintain multiple pathways to obtain teacher licensure and establish licensure reciprocity with other states, and
- Remove barriers and provide incentives to address the growing shortage of substitute teachers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and other school staff. Examples include but are not limited to the following:
Expedite processing of teacher license applications by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board;
Allow student teachers who have completed all graduation requirements to substitute teach prior to receiving their initial teaching license, and
Allow districts to reduce the number of observations required for Teacher Development and Evaluation in the 2021-22 school year.
Leading Sea Change for Equity in Education
Sea change: (noun) a profound or notable transformation; a substantial change in perspective, especially one which affects a group or society at large on a particular issue.
Much has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic early last year and the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. These tragic events have resulted in great loss and pain, but can ultimately provide the impetus needed to bring about sea change in equity and education policy at the local, state and national levels.
The pandemic presents great challenges and frequent changes for students, families and educators. It has also reminded everyone of the critical role public schools play in the overall health and well-being of our communities, the economy and our state’s future. Minnesota schools responded to the pandemic with resolve and determination to help students and families through this public health crisis with food, child care, social-emotional support, and meaningful learning experiences under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Events following the murder of George Floyd sparked a wave of public support and highlighted the urgency to end systemic racism and inequalities in our society. Our schools have assumed a critical role in facilitating the difficult community conversations needed to advance anti-racist practices and eliminate the unacceptable achievement and opportunity gaps that exist for students of color, students in low-income families, and students receiving special education and language services.
To emerge from these life-changing events better than before, Minnesota public schools need stable funding from the state, greater flexibility for local decision-making, and fairness for all students and taxpayers, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or where they live in our state. On behalf of the more than 29,000 students and 160,000 residents of the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools, the School Board and Legislative Advisory Council members urge the Legislature and Governor to lead sea change in equity and public education by taking the following actions during the 2021 budget-setting session.
Basic funding for Minnesota schools has continued to lag inflation and the gap in special education costs over funding will top $698 million statewide in 2021. To provide stable funding for schools:
- Increase general education funding by at least 2 percent per year in the 2021-23 state budget;
- Mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing school districts to use the greater of their 2019 or 2020 pupil counts for calculating general education and compensatory funding, and
- Begin phasing in recommendations of a School Finance Working Group convened by the Minnesota Department of Education last year that would stabilize education funding and ensure taxpayer equity
School districts’ creative and innovative responses to the pandemic have highlighted the importance of flexibility and the ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions and needs of the local community. To provide greater flexibility and local decision-making authority:
- Eliminate the requirement for school districts to partner on Area Learning Center programs and oppose other unnecessary and unfunded mandates;
- Allow the continuation of full-time distance learning currently offered under the Minnesota Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 school year, and
- Expand the innovation zone law to allow school districts to try new instructional models and increase collaboration with post-secondary institutions, nonprofit organizations and businesses.
Equitable financial and educational practices ensure all District 196 taxpayers and stakeholders are treated fairly, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or where they live. State equalization aid helps balance the impact of school taxes on homeowners in school districts with less commercial/industrial property wealth, like District 196. However, equalization aid has not kept pace with the growth in property values over time and no longer provide the intended level of equalization or taxpayer fairness. To provide greater fairness for our stakeholders:
- Increase equalization of the operating referendum, local optional and debt service levies to provide taxpayer fairness and reduce funding disparities between districts;
- Maintain multiple pathways to teacher licensure and create incentives to attract and retain teachers of color, and
- Increase access to school-based pre-kindergarten programs for underserved student populations.
On behalf of our 30,000 students and 150,000 residents, the District 196 School Board and Legislative Advisory Council thank the Legislature and Governor for providing inflationary increases for E-12 education in 2019. Although this is not a budget-setting session, we believe that state leaders should continue to focus on long-term solutions to providing stable, predictable and equitable funding for all Minnesota schools.
The current funding system does not serve the needs of all students and is unfair to taxpayers in districts with lower property wealth, like District 196. The chronic underfunding of special education and unpredictable funding for general education have created instability, increased reliance on local operating levies and a widening gap in the educational opportunities available to students depending on where they live. We believe the Legislature should:
1. Provide stable, predictable and equitable education funding
- Index funding to inflation- The general education funding formula has lagged inflation by nearly 10 percent, or $639 per pupil, since 2003. Indexing the formula to inflation would provide a predictable funding source needed for stability and long-range planning.
- Reduce unfunded special education costs- The state and federal governments mandate special education services but fund just 65 percent of what it actually cost District 196 to provide those services last year. The other 35 percent, totaling $25.6 million, was subsidized by the district’s general fund.
- Increase equalization aid to enhance taxpayer equity- Equalization aid is meant to equalize the impact of school taxes for homeowners in districts with lower property wealth. However, the formula is not indexed to growth and, as a result, provides a diminishing level of equalization. Increasing equalization of the operating referendum, local optional and debt service levies would provide property tax relief for homeowners. It would not increase funding for schools.
2. Increase mental health support for students
Nearly 1 in 4 students who participated in the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey reported having some mental health, behavioral or emotional concerns. Increasing the Safe Schools levy and state aid would enable schools to add staff to address the mental health needs of students.
3. Reduce mandates and increase local control
Locally elected school board members and staff are in the best position to understand the needs of their district and how best to address those needs. We support legislative changes that would reduce mandates and increase local control, and oppose any new unfunded mandates.
The state has majority responsibility to adequately fund public schools to ensure all Minnesota students have access to high-quality educational opportunities, regardless of race, economic status or where they live. But state lawmakers have failed to fulfill this Constitutional duty, putting at risk Minnesota’s future prosperity and ability to compete in the global economy. Increases for basic education averaged less than 1 percent per year in the first half of this decade and the unfunded portion of special education costs continues to grow. As a result, school districts across the state are in a revolving cycle of cutting staff and programs, then asking voters to increase local taxes to prevent further cuts. With the completion of each cycle, the level of service goes down while the needs of students continue to increase, and the opportunity gap grows wider for students in districts where local levies are unsuccessful. On behalf of our 29,000 students and 155,000 residents, the District 196 School Board and Legislative Advisory Council members believe the Legislature should establish stable funding solutions for Minnesota schools by taking the following actions during the 2019 budget-setting session:
Increase basic education funding by 4 percent per year
The general education formula allowance is the single biggest source of revenue Minnesota school districts receive. Since 2003, the difference between the actual and inflation-adjusted general education formula allowance has grown to $618 per pupil. If the formula had kept pace with inflation, District 196 would be receiving an additional
$19 million in state aid this year.
Increase special education funding to reduce unfunded costs
The state and federal governments mandate special education services but fund just 59 percent of what it actually cost District 196 to deliver those services last year. The other 41 percent in unfunded special education costs, known as the “cross-subsidy,” were paid for out of the district’s general fund. In fiscal year 2018, the special education cross-subsidy was $700 million statewide and $29 million in
District 196 alone.
Treat homeowners fairly by increasing equalization aid
State equalization aid helps balance the impact of school taxes for home-owners in school districts that have less commercial/industrial property wealth, like District 196, with those that have greater property wealth. However, the factors used to calculate equalization aid have not kept pace with the growth in property values over time and no longer provide the intended level of equalization or taxpayer fairness. With increasing reliance on local property taxes to adequately fund schools, state lawmakers should increase the equalizing factors for referendum, debt service and lease levies, and index them to keep pace with inflation.
On behalf of our more than 28,000 students and 150,000 residents, the District 196 School Board and Legislative Advisory Council members thank the Legislature and Governor for providing needed investment in E-12 education in the 2017 budget-setting session.
Funding approved through fiscal year 2019 make it five years in a row of 2 percent increases to the general education formula, the largest single source of revenue supporting student learning in our state. These consistent, at least inflationary increases are necessary to avoid the detrimental staffing and program cuts that resulted from state funding increases that averaged less than 1 percent per year in the first half of this decade.
Although 2018 is not a budget-setting session, we believe state leaders should continue discussion toward establishing stable funding solutions that support a “general and uniform system of public schools,” as required of the Legislature in Article 13, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution. We believe the Legislature should:
Index the general education formula to inflation
- $579 per pupil – This is the funding gap between the actual and inflation-adjusted general education formula allowance from 2003 to 2018. Fully fund this gap and index future general education formula increases to the annual rate of inflation.
Increase special education funding
- $27 million – This is the cross-subsidy gap between the funding District 196 will receive and the actual cost of providing mandated services for students with special needs this year. Statewide, the cross-subsidy will top $700 million.
Increase equalization aid to equalize the local tax burden
- $260 to $290 – This range represents the additional annual cost to the owner of a $250,000 home in District 196 for a $1,140 per pupil operating levy, compared to the owners of a $250,000 home in three high commercial property wealth districts in the west metro area.
Allow local control to renew existing operating levies
- 99 percent – This is the percentage of operating levies renewed by Minnesota voters since 2011 (180 of 182). Give locally elected School Board members authority to renew levies that were previously approved by local voters and do not represent a tax increase.
Stabilize the Teachers Retirement Association (TRA) Fund
- $279 million – This is District 196’s share of TRA’s $9 billion unfunded liability in fiscal year 2017. Stabilize the fund by adjusting benefits, increasing the employee and employer contributions, and fund the increase in the employer contribution.