2016 Legislative Platform
Fridley School Public Schools is an urban school district is located within the city of Fridley, Minnesota. The district is located about 10 miles north of Minneapolis in Anoka County. The district serves the city of Fridley with two elementary schools, a middle school, a high school, a transition program, and an area learning center. The district also provides community education programs for participants new born to senior citizens. Fridley has a diverse student population of 3,000 students of whom 1/3 are open enrolled from surrounding metro cities. Students of color make up 52% of the student body and white students 48%. 63% of our students receive free or reduced school meals, 16 % have special needs and 16% are English Learners (EL). The district employees 406 staff.
Property tax levies play a critical role in funding education programs and facilities. These levies have a widely different impact on local property tax payers depending on the property tax wealth of the school district. Fridley and other school districts that have a low property tax base are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the ability to generate voter-approved referendum revenue.
As an example, the referendum taxes on a $200,000 home per adjusted pupil unit of $1,870 will cost a homeowner in Fridley $995 compared to a state average of $606 (for the same valued home, a Fridley homeowner would pay $385 more than the state average). This inequity in our tax law is creating significant opportunity gaps for children based merely on where they live. In our district, this means fewer teachers, staff and programs to support our neediest students.
We support the recommendation of the Facilities Finance Work Group that seeks the increase of the equalization factor of the debt-service equalization program, and equalization of the capital projects levy and lease levy. Increased equalizations would increase access to revenue for deferred maintenance, capital projects, operating capital, technology access and infrastructure, and provide tax relief to low-property wealth school districts such as Fridley. Each funding stream must include improvement to equalization factors and be indexed where allowable for inflation.
The basic formula used to fund public schools continues to lag behind inflation even as costs of public education increases. We support legislation that would increase the basic general education formula by 2% and establish an ongoing cost of living adjustment to address the current rate of inflation to prevent future underfunding of the basic formula.
Fully funded Special Education Cross Subsidy
The failure of the State to fully fund special education continues to stress school district budgets. The adjusted net cross subsidy of special education services has grown to $2.37 million in the Fridley School District. To stabilize education funding the special education cross subsidy should be reduced by 25%.