State aid to public schools should increase and be tied to inflation, the Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools Board told local legislators Monday night.
The district also asked Reps. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) and Hunter Cantrell (DFL-Savage) and Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake) to increase the money for special education and basic skills.
In May, Gov. Tim Walz signed an omnibus education bill that included a 2% increase in the basic per-student formula in 2020 and 2021. The increase roughly matches inflation, and Pratt called the increase a personal priority.
District Executive Director of Business Services Julie Cink said the increase was helpful but only applied to about 60% of the district’s revenue, making the true increase closer to 1%.
“We appreciate the money, don’t get me wrong,” Cink said. “We appreciate that you look out for us, we do. It’s just we continue to go backwards a little bit.”
Board members also requested more options for additional security changes to schools. They said they’d like to see an expansion of acceptable uses for a district’s Long-Term Facilities Revenue to include “safety enhancements through security modifications, remodeling and additions to existing buildings,” according to the district’s legislative platform.
Assistant Superintendent Jeff Holmberg said the growing popularity of Prior Lake High School’s Fabrication Lab has the district considering a dedicated trade pathway through the district’s MNCAPS program. Holmberg said talks with local businesses left the district optimistic.
“They needed this yesterday,” he said. But federal rules around having students under 18 on job sites and increased liability insurance for any potential partners are posing a barrier.
Pratt said he’s talking with the state’s labor commissioner about letting 16- and 17-year-olds on job sites and would hold a hearing on the possibility of increasing student involvement in a safe way.