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Bemidji, MN: $4M shortfall in SPED; "burden has fallen on ... local taxpayers"

Jan 27, 2019, Bemidji (MN) Pioneer: VIEWPOINT: Bemidji Area Schools calls for predictable, forecasted state funding https://www.bemidjipioneer.com/opinion/columns/4562522-viewpoint-bemidji-area-schools-calls-predictable-forecasted-state-funding … Funding education is a constitutional duty of the governor and the Legislature. State funding has not kept up with inflation since 2003. That stacks up to nearly $600 per pupil in Bemidji Public Schools, according to the Minnesota Department of Education. This underfunding has led to a higher burden for the taxpayers in the Bemidji School District and prevents the school district from implementing programs that would support students. Our student transportation costs were underfunded last year by $500,000 dollars; our special education funding shortfall last year amounted to more than $4 million. The shortfall also interferes with the ability of district administrators and board members to effectively plan and execute on our community’s vision for education. … Local voters across the state have had to fill the gap for basic education services. In our community, local voters have had to support Bemidji Public Schools with more than $5 million in additional local funding every year as a result of the state’s underfunding of education. As a result, much of the state’s fiscal responsibility and burden has fallen on the shoulders of local taxpayers. … Without the approval of 3 percent and 3 percent and predictable, forecasted increases above inflation this legislative session, Bemidji Public Schools will need to continue to burden local taxpayers with over $500,000 for busing and more than $4 million in special education costs.