Minnesota Rep. Jeff Backer (R-Browns Valley) met with Campbell-Tintah School officials to discuss the schools’ challenges and successes on Thursday, Nov. 14.
Principal and Superintendent Kyle Edgerton, school board member Tim Goettle, Transportation and Custodial Director Earl Carter and English Teacher Lynette Schwagerl had a small group discussion with Backer.
“I really feel it's important that our elected officials are familiar with our school building, the people here and what life is like in our school,” Schwagerl said. “I feel that it should be part of their routine. I’d like to see all legislatures in school regularly.”
Schwagerl had presented Edgerton with the idea of reaching out to Backer a while back. Backer welcomed the opportunity to visit the school.
“I want him to get to know us. Know our district and what we struggle with and the good things,” Edgerton said.
Throughout the discussion, Goettle had expressed that Minnesota state mandates stress rural schools, particularly mandates that are unfunded by the state.
When the state places unfunded mandates, schools must allocate resources to comply with the regulation which can often be at the expense of education.
When the Minnesota places mandates on schools, the state does not always provide financial aid to the local district in order to comply with regulations.
“We really need to get the state out of their way as much as possible. There is a relationship you need to work with the state, but there are policies and procedures and mandates that do not make sense for our rural schools in greater Minnesota,” Backer said.
Backer expressed his desire to lower mandates with schools, cities, communities and counties to relieve stress put on by the state.
“Those folks in Campbell-Tintah, just like the folks in Breckenridge, Rothsay, Wheaton and Browns Valley, those (school board) members and teachers have a better understanding on how to provide the best education for those students than a bureaucrat sitting in St. Paul,” Backer said.
Backer claims that when the Republicans had the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, they were able to do more for resolving the pressures of mandates.
“We are out of session right now so there is not a current initiative to do that,” Backer said. “Us in greater Minnesota are always striving for that.”
Schwargerl and Edgerton were overall pleased with Backer’s visit. They provided Backer with a tour of the school at the end of their discussion. They showed the representative additions and updates the school has made to its classrooms and infrastructure.