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Historic legislative session brings opportunities, challenges for school districts

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Historic legislative session brings opportunities, challenges for school districts


superintendent dr. theresa battle

Superintendent's Column: 2023 Legislative Recap

Dr. Theresa Battle, District 191 Superintendent

In 2023, in an effort to make public schools work better for everyone, leaders in the Minnesota State Legislature made it clear that education was a top priority and that they intended to take big steps, not little ones. They made good on that intention, and the results will have significant impacts on districts across the state, including Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191. 

The legislature provided funding increases for general education, special education and several specific categories of funding, which will help support important services for students. It created new obligations and mandates that will require districts to use some of that new funding. It also implemented policy changes - such as changes to unemployment insurance and labor relations laws - the impacts of which we just don’t know yet, but which will also require districts to use some of the new funding. 

First, I think it’s important to point out that this isn’t the first time a legislature has made changes to school funding and requirements. It will take time and effort for us to adjust to the new normal, but we will adjust. In fact, if there’s one thing I wish the legislature would have considered, it’s just that districts could have been given more time to prepare for some of the changes we’re required to make.

In District 191, we’ll be focused on the new tools and opportunities so we can make the most of them for our students and staff. 

For instance, the legislature provided additional funding to attract, develop and retain teachers, especially teachers of color. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to create a strong Education Pathway at Burnsville High School, and the resources we provide students who want to go into teaching as a career, including scholarships and opportunities to earn college credits. With additional commitment from the state, we’ll be able to continue and strengthen those efforts, helping build a high quality, effective and diverse teaching force in Minnesota. 

There are also new requirements when it comes to curriculum that make sense and will benefit everyone. Students are now required to take a course in civics and a course in personal finance in order to graduate. Lessons on the Holocaust and genocide are required by 2026-27. New funding and requirements around literacy curriculum will help districts move toward effective practices, which we’re already implementing. 

Right now in District 191, we’re fortunate to be in a relatively stable financial situation thanks to community support, stabilizing enrollment and strategic fiscal management. I acknowledge this isn’t the case for every school district, and this year’s legislative session won’t solve the serious financial concerns of some many communities. 

But we’ll approach the challenges and opportunities of new legislation the same way we do everything else. We’ll stay grounded in our mission and core values, and stay committed to making our own path forward using the strengths of the One91 community for the benefit of our students and families. 

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