School & District Management

Sweeping K-12 Bill in Minn. Would Abolish State Board

By Ann Bradley — April 15, 1998 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Minnesota legislature approved a jam-packed $124 million education bill last week that would abolish the state school board, lift a cap on superintendents’ salaries, and provide generous funding for teacher professional development.

The bill, the product of marathon negotiations between House and Senate leaders, also seeks noteworthy changes in special education funding and includes $12 million to establish three “residential academies” for troubled students.

Gov. Arne Carlson indicated last week that he would sign the measure, which would also allocate $70 million to help school districts train teachers to implement the state’s new Profile of Learning. The profile is a package of requirements that students must complete in order to graduate from high school, beginning with the class of 2002.

Early in their negotiations, the lawmakers agreed to put the 79-year-old board of education out of business on Dec. 31, 1999, although the bill they passed calls for a task force to examine school governance between now and the end of next year.

The board, whose nine members are appointed by the governor, was roundly criticized last fall for its efforts to write a “diversity rule” requiring districts to reduce educational disparities between students of different racial and ethnic groups. (“In Minn., Criticism May Quash Board’s Diversity-Rule Proposal,” Dec. 3, 1997.)

Precedent-Setting Move

If the panel indeed is abolished, Minnesota would become the first state to make such a move, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education. The Minnesota board’s rule-making powers would be given to the state education commissioner, who is also a gubernatorial appointee.

Ken Morris, the president of the board, said he wished lawmakers had called for a study of education governance before voting to scrap the board. “This is a little bit ‘cart before the horse,’” said Mr. Morris, who was appointed to the panel in January.

Brenda Welburn, the executive director of the Alexandria, Va.-based NASBE, said abolishing the Minnesota panel would “set a dangerous precedent.” Noting that Minnesota has gone through numerous state commissioners of education in the past five years, she argued that the board can provide stability.

But the Republican governor also has made several changes to the panel, which is widely perceived as a highly political body.

Bob Wedl, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning, the state’s education agency, said the board’s power had been “eroding over the past 20 years.” The panel can’t write rules--its primary responsibility--without authority from the legislature.

“The legislature is really the school board in this state,” Mr. Wedl said, “and they recognize that.”

The state board is still working on its final rules for the upcoming Profile of Learning. The package of graduation requirements is now scheduled to take effect for students entering 9th grade next fall. But the education bill gives districts the option of phasing in the exercises more slowly by requesting a waiver from the state education agency.

Judy L. Schaubach, the president of the Minnesota Education Association, said the teachers’ union will continue to urge the state board to delay the requirements for students for one year. “We need to make sure [we’re] not putting kids at risk,” she said.

The MEA was pleased with the legislature’s commitment to providing staff-development money for teachers to implement the new standards, Ms. Schaubach said, noting that much of the funding will come from an ongoing appropriation. Districts that have made good progress on gearing their coursework to the Profile of Learning can use some of the money to reduce class sizes.

Funding Changes

The legislature also moved to solve a problem that has bedeviled Twin Cities school districts by voting to remove a cap that limited superintendents’ salaries to 95 percent of the governor’s annual $120,000 paycheck. The measure received particular support from the St. Paul district, which is in the market for a new superintendent.

The bill also includes $12 million to set up three residential academies for troubled students, a priority for Mr. Carlson. The money would pay for renovations and operating costs, while state education funds and social-service dollars would follow students to the schools.

One contentious issues lawmakers addressed involved special education funding. Under the compromise hammered out in a House-Senate conference committee, the state would assume some of the cost of local districts’ fees for due-process hearings.

Related Tags:


Student Well-Being Webinar After-School Learning Top Priority: Academics or Fun?
Join our expert panel to discuss how after-school programs and schools can work together to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Data Data: How Schools Respond to Student Hunger Over the Summer
The end of pandemic-era flexibility for schools and community organizations has translated into fewer students receiving free summer meals.
1 min read
Children enjoy lunches provided by the Brownsville Independent School District on June 8, 2016, at the Olivera Park gymnasium in Brownsville, Texas. The local school district provides free lunches to any child under 18 who needs a meal, regardless of their status as a student with the school district.
Children enjoy lunches provided by the Brownsville Independent School District on June 8, 2016, at the Olivera Park gymnasium in Brownsville, Texas. School districts and other organizations can sign up as summer meal sites to continue providing meals to students once school is out of session.
Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald via AP
School & District Management Online Training Program to Boost Number of Principals of Color Expands
A New York City education college is the latest to join an online principal training program for educators of color and equity-minded leaders.
4 min read
Business like setting, with Black man on a laptop in a corporate conference room or office collaborating with a Black woman
School & District Management How Can You Tell What Students Need to Succeed at School? Ask Them
Some administrators let students drive purchasing decisions, shape dress code policies, and voice their concerns directly.
4 min read
051223 Lead Sym Mark L jb BS
Chris Ferenzi for Education Week
School & District Management Fewer Students Are Getting Free Summer Meals After Pandemic Waivers End
Summer meal programs are expected to serve fewer students following last summer's end of a federal waiver.
5 min read
Kids line up for lunch outside the Michigan City Area Schools' converted school bus at Weatherstone Village on U.S. 20 in Michigan City, Ind., on July 22, 2021. The bus makes four stops every weekday as part of the Summer Food Program.
Kids line up for lunch outside the Michigan City Area Schools' converted school bus at Weatherstone Village on U.S. 20 in Michigan City, Ind., on July 22, 2021. The bus makes four stops every weekday as part of the Summer Food Program. Summer meal programs are expected to serve fewer students this summer after the expiration of a pandemic-era federal waiver.
Jeff Mayes/The News Dispatch via AP