All-day, everyday kindergarten was one educational issue area legislators said they'd support.
The Brainerd School District's Legislative Committee got an indication Thursday of where Republican Sen.-elect Paul Koering, Rep. Greg Blaine, R-Little Falls; and Rep. Dale Walz, R-Brainerd, stand on educational issues.
Koering said all-day, everyday kindergarten was part of his platform when he ran for office two years ago.
"I feel strongly about it," he said of the kindergarten program. "I went to all-day, everyday kindergarten. Funding will be difficult but I will help as much as I can."
"Kindergarten is a big issue," said Blaine. "In Little Falls parents had to contribute to the program. I don't think that is the best way to do it. I do support the program."
Walz said the two issues he plans to focus on are special education and a statewide health insurance program for teachers.
Special education funding is on the school district's list of priorities. School board member Lew Hudson said special education costs continue to increase more rapidly than other educational costs. He said if the federal funding of mandated special education programs were increased by a reasonable and significant amount that millions of area dollars would be made available for other priorities, such as all-day, everyday kindergarten.
Walz said the federal government did not fulfill its promise in special education funding.
Another issue on the district's list is funding for the advanced placement program. During the last legislative session, support for the program was cut from $2 million to $1 million with $375,000 going toward teacher training. The district projects the state will pay $25 of the $75 cost per test. Last year the district conducted 500 tests for a cost of $25,000.
Walz asked what drives the cost of the tests. Brainerd School District Superintendent Jerry Walseth said the cost is attributed to the research in creating the tests and to the training of staff to score the tests.
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