Posted at: 12/10/2012 6:54 PM
By: Dan Conradt
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The 2013 Minnesota legislative session begins four weeks from now. On Monday, some lawmakers got a head-start.
"I think it's important that we get to know them and they get to know us," said Superintendent of Austin Public Schools David Krenz.
“It's a nice chance to sit down at a roundtable and kind of a casual atmosphere,” added Democratic State Senator Dan Sparks of Austin. “And get to hear really first hand from our local educators the challenges that they face."
It's become an annual tradition for Senator Dan Sparks and Representative Jeanne Poppe of Austin -- a meeting with administrators and Austin school board members to find out what's on their minds.
It was an hour-long meeting that addressed a wide variety of topics, from student testing to teacher licensure, bullying, all-day kindergarten and integration funding.
"I was shocked to hear we have over 47 languages spoken right here within the district, so I think there's a real need for it," Senator Dan Sparks explained.
Education is the largest part of the state budget, and when the next legislative session opens on January 8th, Democrats will control the house, senate and governorship for the first time in more than 20 years.
"What I hope happens is that they take a reasonable approach and there isn't across-the-aisle bickering to find true solutions," said Austin Superintendent David Krenz.
"I think you're going to see a real commitment to making some policy changes, but to also see we fully funding the school system in an equitable and fair way," Senator Dan Sparks added.
Some good financial news for Minnesota school districts, the state expects to pay back about half of the $2.4 billion dollars in state funding that was shifted away from schools to help balance a faltering state budget.