2019 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 63% of the student body and white students 36%. 65% of our students receive free or reduced school meals, 15% have special needs and 13% are English Learners (EL).
TAX RELIEF AND REFORM
Although property tax continue to be a significant source of funding for school districts, our state’s current tax policy limits educational opportunities for many students throughout Minnesota. Without significant commercial and industrial development to expand the tax base and lower the overall taxpayer cost, the cost for school levies falls heavily on the local home and small business owners in low-property wealth school districts. With limited commercial real estates within its school boundaries, Fridley is one of those low-property wealth school districts that has a greater reliance on voter approved levies to get funding for capital improvements.
We advocate for tax relief and reform that will increase state aid in low-property wealth school districts for local school operating and building bond levies by increasing the equalization of the referendum, debt service, and local optional levies, and for the tax reform to include indexing equalization to inflation.
Fridley supports the legislative priority of increasing the basic formula by at least 3%. Education funding has not kept up with inflations or the rising expectations for student achievement. So while the basic formula has received a much need boost recently, the increase has done little to make up for significant loss of buying power due to inflation over the past two decades.
SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING
The state and federal governments have failed to adequately fund special education, forcing school districts to use money meant for regular classroom instruction to make up the difference not funded by the state. That difference is known as “cross-subsidy”. Fridley’s cross-subsidy for the 2017 school year was $2,070,042. The amount of revenue school districts must divert from general fund to pay for mandated but un-reimbursed special education services is not sustainable and jeopardizes the quality of public education in Minnesota. Fridley supports the legislative priority of increasing the state’s share of special education funding.