School District 192 will join association of metropolitan districtsThe Farmington School District will pay $10,000 to join the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, but not all board members are convinced the membership is a good investment.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
The Farmington School District will pay $10,000 to join the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, but not all board members are convinced the membership is a good investment.
Superintendent Jay Haugen proposed the membership. He said it benefits the district to be involved in the discussions the more than 40-member advocacy and lobbying group is having.
“They’re out there doing their work with or without us,” Haugen said. “I’d really rather be part of it.”
The Lakeville and South Washington County groups also recently joined AMSD.
Some board members weren’t so sure Farmington should join them. Board members Melissa Sauser and Tim Burke voted against the membership. Sauser expressed uncertainty about the membership and suggested the group will continue working for metropolitan school districts whether or not Farmington is a member.
Burke objected to what he called AMSD’s efforts to lobby against districts’ accountability to their taxpayers and said there are easier – and cheaper – ways for Farmington schools to be heard at the capitol. Burke pointed out that Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington is chair of the Minnesota House Education Finance Committee.
“It’s $10,000 we don’t have to spend,” Burke said. “When it comes to influencing decision-making, we couldn’t do any better than to pick up the phone and call our state representative.”
Most board members supported the membership, though. Julie McKnight argued that it’s up to the school board to approve a budget and up to administrators to decide how to best use the money that is available to them. Others pointed out that even access to Garofalo will not ensure the district’s voice is heard at the capitol.
“You need both sides of the aisle … and you can’t do that just talking to Mr. Garofalo,” board member Brian Treakle said.
Haugen said it’s important for the Farmington district to be an active participant in what is going on in education in Minnesota. He likes the idea of superintendents and school board members getting together to talk, and said AMSD?puts on a good conference for school leaders.
“School districts that want to be the very best, we can’t do that by just being internal,” Haugen said.
The board ultimately supported the membership on a 4-2 vote.