A long-standing debate about when Minnesota school districts may begin classes has resurfaced in the Legislature.
The Minnesota House’s Public Information Services reported that Tom Kavanaugh, whose family owns Kavanaugh’s Sylvan Lake Resort, spoke on the issue Thursday in St. Paul.
Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Newton, DFL-Coon Rapids, House File 261 would allow districts to start the school year before Labor Day. With a few exceptions, state law currently prohibits them from doing so.
Many school leaders argue that, in order to raise student achievement, they need greater flexibility to set school calendars. But many resort owners, farmers and grocers counter that starting school before Labor Day would sap their businesses and summer workforce.
The House Education Policy Committee heard testimony on Thursday.
The bill would give school districts more local control, Newton said. Edina School Superintendent Ric Dressen and Orono School Board Member John Malone spoke in support of the bill.
But business owner Kavanaugh said the change would hurt his resort’s bottom line. Kavanaugh’s Sylvan Lake Resort does 70 percent of its business between June 15 and Labor Day, he said.
The committee plans to continue discussing the bill on Tuesday. It has no Senate companion.
■ Ruud appointed to Permanent School Fund Commission
Sen. Carrie Ruud, R- Breezy Point, has been appointed to serve on the Permanent School Fund Commission, formerly known as the Permanent School Fund Advisory Committee.
When Minnesota became a state in 1858, the federal government granted sections 16 and 36 of every township, or their equivalent, to the state for the use of schools. The Minnesota Constitution established the Permanent School Fund (PSF) to ensure a long-term source of funds for public education in the state. The PSF consists of the accumulated revenues generated from the land. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for managing the school trust land, which currently totals about 2.5 million acres, plus an additional 1 million acres of severed mineral rights.
Last year the Minnesota Legislature replaced the Permanent School Fund Advisory Committee (PSFAC) with the Permanent School Fund Commission. The job of the commission is to advise DNR on management of school trust lands and to work closely with the newly-created School Trust Lands Director.
“On average the permanent school fund provides K-12 schools with about $25 million in payments from investment interest and dividends per year. It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be a member of the Permanent School Fund Commission,” said Ruud.