Perham School Board supports resolution for fully funding special education


The Perham School Board held its monthly meeting Wednesday night. Agenda items included verbal reports by the school principals, a resolution to fully fund special education, additional staffing requests and several retirement announcements.

High School Principal Ehren Zimmerman brought up that there have been questions about the date of graduation this year, he clarified that Perham High School graduation is on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, May 27, at 2:00 p.m.

At Heart of the Lakes Elementary School, a raffle ticket sale is underway to raise money for fencing and playground equipment. A ticket drawing will be held, Wednesday, March 7, at 3:30 p.m., and the annual Bingo event is on Thursday, March 8, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

This week is School Board Appreciation Week, board members received KLN gift baskets and letters of appreciation.

Other business included, School Board Chairperson Sue Von Ruden reading a resolution to fully fund special education services. The purpose of reading the resolution was to give some background on how in 1975 the federal government promised to fund 40 percent of the additional cost of educating children with disabilities after it enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975 (now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Act or IDEA).

However, the federal government has never funded more than 15 percent of the additional cost.

State special education funding has not been able to keep pace with the rising cost of mandated services. According to the resolution, the cross-subsidy for school districts for FY2016 is $679 million, a 5.6 percent increase from FY2015. Between rising need and lack of state and federal aid, the costs for school districts will average $815 per student in FY2017.

"The purpose of the resolution is to show unified support from school districts as the Minnesota School Board Association lobbies the legislature and the governor," according to Superintendent Mitch Anderson.

Changes in staffing next year include the retirement of three teachers who combined have over 100 years of teaching experience, Heart of the Lakes Elementary School teachers Daidre Klinnert, Julie Vomacka and Mary Schmidt.

The board approved adding staff for the 2018-2019 school year, a fifth grade instructor, a full time K-6 art instructor and an elementary teacher.