Governor Mark Dayton is asking the state Legislature to support emergency aid for schools in Minnesota. The Governor made a visit to Rochester Wednesday to discuss his proposal and talk to students at Franklin Elementary. Rochester Public Schools face a budget deficit of one-point-six-million-dollars for the 2018-2019 school year. The Governor is proposing 137-point-nine-million-dollars in emergency aid to help schools. He's hoping this will avoid layoffs and program cuts.
"59 School districts that have these serious deficits," he explained at the school, "Yours is significant and others are even worse. And the kind of layoffs, you know, 19 good people here and throughout the district, I mean it's just.....we can't let it....and we have a budget surplus. I mean, what better use for that money than to help our schools through this difficult situation."
Rochester's not alone. At least 26 school districts in the Twin Cities area and 33 school districts in Greater Minnesota are facing budget deficits. Rochester Schools Superintendent Michael Muñoz says getting additional funding would let the school system consider adding more supports that impact the students and forgo future budget cuts.
"I would argue it's not because districts aren't using their money wisely, it's because our costs are going up and our funding source has not kept up with the pace of what our costs are," he says. .
Governor Dayton says it may take effort by Minnesotans to make his proposal happen.
"I don't have a vote in the Legislature, so it's going to take," says the governor, "I hope everyone here will contact your legislators and tell them how important this is and urge them to support it because it's gotta be bipartisan and it should be. Adequate education should not be a partisan issue. It's about Minnesota's issue."
The proposal would provide a one-time Emergency School Aid that would increase investments in K-12 education by two-percent in the coming school year for every school in Minnesota. In a letter addressed to the people of Minnesota, Governor Dayton says if budget deficits aren't addressed, teachers could lose their jobs and students will suffer.