Support Local School Boards

As our state legislature wraps up this session, I've advocated for local control. Here's what I've sent to my local representatives and the Education Conference Committee members.

Subject: Please support local school boards!

Thank you for your willingness to serve in our state legislature. As a fellow public servant, I do not take your efforts for granted. I humbly ask for your consideration on two specific items on the Education Bills at hand: strike unemployment for school hourly workers and do NOT include class size, staffing ratios, student to personnel ratios or student testing in Terms and Conditions


First, please eliminate the unemployment for school hourly workers. Somehow UI was wrapped into both the House and Senate Omnibus Education bills WITHOUT funding. There continues to be this myth that school districts have “enough” funding to absorb these additional mandates. ISD 192 Farmington Area School District was one of many school districts across Minnesota that went through a budget reduction process for the 2022-23 school year. Even with the financial packages that are in the House and Senate bills we would still have a $2+ million deficit and if you include the costs of UI, our deficit could grow to over $3 million. This doesn’t even consider the difficulty we may have covering our open summer positions. We currently have open hourly positions this summer. Anything that makes it more difficult to fill these positions will negatively impact our programs and learner experiences.


Specifically, requiring Farmington Area School District to take on the cost of unemployment insurance for our hourly workers over the summer would be an additional ~$1.5 million in expenditures or ~2% of our budget. Meaning, the 4% that is put on the formula for the 2023-24 school year in the House bill is really 2% and in 2024-25 the 2% becomes 0%. In the Senate bill the 4% and 5% becomes 2% and 3%. In real dollars/impact the House proposal has districts going backwards.


There can be no “investment” in education until all unfunded/underfunded mandates are fully covered AND additional unfunded/underfunded mandates stop. If the currently written unemployment mandates are passed as part of the Omnibus Education bills, our district will be forced to cut positions (increase class sizes) or ask our voters to fill the financial gaps left behind with an additional levy. 

In addition, I am asking you to not include class size, staffing ratios, student to personnel ratios or student testing in Terms and Conditions and maintain the language to keep number of personnel in the definition of inherent managerial rights. Please accept the Senate language in the Omnibus Labor Policy Bills, HF 1348 and SF 1318.  The Senate voted on the Floor to delete the Terms and Conditions section of the bill and language that would strike “number of personnel” in the inherent managerial rights section of statute. 

Changes to Terms and Conditions of employment would establish a new baseline for benefits and pay at the state level. This will significantly impact the balance at our local bargaining table, usurp our authority as school boards, and does not take into consideration our local district budgeting process and policies.  Specifically to ISD 192, these provisions, if passed, would require 50 more Full Time Equivalent teachers. In addition to increased staff, requiring specific percentages of health insurance premiums be paid by the district, increasing district Teacher Retirement Association contributions and mandating a $25/hour starting wage for all non-licensed employees, it is estimated that these would cost ISD 192 an additional $7.8 million dollars from our general education funds.

The roles and responsibilities of our school board are important to a strong public school system.  These decisions will, and should, be made at the local bargaining table by those of us who have been elected to serve and who understand the school district’s goals and potential fiscal impact on the school district’s budget.  

I respectfully request you share my concerns of these bills with the conferences and leadership. My prayers are for your wisdom and discernment as you complete this legislative session on May 22.

Becky DeWilde
ISD 192 School Board


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