Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Stillwater: Education Funding Q and A

Two wise guys who read this blog started talking seriously about local school funding issues here and began to discuss them intelligently. This threw me, so I decided to run it here on the "front page" so that interested folks could comment, if they wished. Naturally, tn's answer is his own; tn sounds like he knows what he's talking about, but you never know. "tn" might stand for "totally nuts"; on the other hand it might stand for "terribly nowledgable"; you never know on the web.

Eric said...
This is only slightly on topic here, but it is in regards to school funding. I grew up here and when I was in high school, we didn't have any activity fees to deal with. We had to buy or rent our own instruments for the music programs, but that was about it. Driver's Education, sports, busing...all were free. My question: What happened to the funding that allowed activities to go from free for all to only for those that can pay?

9:02 AM

TN said...
Eric, This is a tough question but I'll try to be brief. Before Ventura was Governor each district controlled much of their own money. The state kicked in a little per student. Ventura wanted to equalize the district so that the poorer districts could offer more opportunities for their kids. They capped the percentage a district could levy on property owners. Because 834 is primarily residential it affects homeowners much more than say, Edina. They have a large business base and the businesses don't have a vote per say.
Also much of the funding has been stagnant for the past 10-12 years.
A recent study that was finished by several education groups showed that the schools in MN are under-funded by a billion dollars, meaning the actual cost to provide a decent education for all the kids in the state.

Healthcare and energy costs also take money out of the classroom, which leads to fees for extra-ciricular activities to go up.


At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Eric said...

I'm still a little lost on this. Have costs gone up, revenue streams gone down or both? I guess I want to know is how we could afford this stuff in the past but can no longer do so. Has the whole equation changed? Were school districts (especially ours) operating in the black or in the red back then?

Maybe this is the wrong place to search for answers, but I'll start here anyways.

At 2:20 AM, Anonymous Chris said...


You should link to this great blog:


At 2:21 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

The hyperlink looked fine in the preview, but doesn't now...

Here's that blog again:

At 2:24 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

According to an MB poll, Undecided is leading in the race for the GOP nomination in the Sixth District!

Michele Bachmann 29%
Jim Knoblach 17%
Phil Krinkie 10%
Jay Esmay 4%
Undecided 32%
Wouldn't say 8%

Bachmann sites a blog that shows her lead is triple the margin of error. But she doesn't mention that she's in a statistical dead heat with Undecided, a moderate Republican from St. Cloud.

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I am all for adequate education funding and don't feel like the state is spending enough in this area, despite considering myself fiscally conservative, but can we find someone more objective than an education group to say Minnesota's schools are underfunded by one billion dollars, or whatever it was. That's like citing Norm Coleman as a valid gauge for how Bush's presidency or the war in Iraq is going. Let's face it, unless Minnesota schools are over-funded by a billion dollars you're certainly not going to hear about it from this group and even then they would be suggesting that not only should every K-12 student be provided a laptop computer, but they should probably have two so they don't have carry them home.

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous TN said...

Anonymous... This study was started by a commission started by Tim Pawlenty and the Dept. of Education. Half way through the study they realized the results would not bode well for the no new taxes crowd, so they stopped the study. Some education groups finished the study so that we have a number we can take to the legislature. Tim Pawlenty and the Dept of Education have not refuted the one billion dollar figure. Considering we have about 800,000 kids in K-12 it would amount to $800 more per child.

What does laptop computers have to do with funding?

Education is NOT an expense! It is an investment.

Expenses do not give any return. It's like buying a car.

Investments have the potencial for long term gains for Centuries, or at least through the life of the child.

Anon... What kind of car do you drive? What do you pay per month on your lease or payment?

What is your rate of return on that car? The answer is about -80% depending on how long you keep it.

The Minnesota economy is directly correlated to the education of the public. In a global economy if the needs can not be met here, the companies will find someone in China or India to do the same job.

The late economist Peter Drucker said that our next economy will be lead by knowledge and our ability to think and reason. Wouldn't it therefore make sense to raise the level of education and expectations?

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am pro-education and understand it's importantace, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to throw money away. As far as the study goes, even though I don't feel the funding from the state has been adequate, I certainly am not going to trust the department of education and these education groups any more than I will listen to McDonalds tell me that fries and Big Macs are good for me. The laptops are an issue for funding education in Stillwater because the previous school board foolishly voted to give every Oak-Land Junior High School student a laptop. Apparently this district had so much money to throw around they decided to invest a huge chunk of it into one school, ignoring most of the others, for a program they cannot possibly continue to support once their lease runs out. It is important because the laptops will be the one and only reason people have to not support a future levy. Hell, if I borrow my brother $100 after he tells me how broke he is and he spends it on lottery tickets I'm probably not going to say yes the next time he comes calling. I can already hear pro-laptop zealouts out there screaming that that was money ear-marked for technology and couldn't be spent for anything else, and this of course is total BS. Not including the money taken out of the general fund to support a 3 to 1 computer initiative at Stillwater Junior High (I believe it was $1.5 million), there have been projects which should have been funded by that technology nest egg that has since been paid for out of the general fund. In fact, any of those school board members who actually voted for the 1 to 1 laptop initiative (the ones who are still around) would need balls of steel to ask voters to support another levy after what they pulled. I'm sure these same laptop zealots will point to higher achievement, which will be almost impossible to prove one way or the other, but unless those gains are substantial, this district has simply pissed away a few million dollars.

At 7:31 AM, Anonymous MH said...

The fact that you (Anonymous) don't know the proper use of "borrow" and "lend" is argument enough for me to support more funding for education! I trust the experts (the teachers) to know what works to teach these kids today. I think it is ironic that someone who blogs can't see the value of computers in education!

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't think I ever said computers aren't important for kids in school today, I just question whether every single kid needs a laptop at such a huge cost when that money could be spent more efficiently. I'm surprised there hasn't been a lawsuit yet because the district dumped all this money into a program at just one of a dozen schools. Way to go. Is it any wonder several of the board members and a superintendent have found themselves run out of town?


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