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City of Farmington, ISD 192 want to keep talking

Farmington mayor Todd Larson and School District 192 Board of Education chair Tera Lee listened to a report during Monday's joint school board/city council meeting. Held at Farmington City Hall, the joint meeting was the first of its kind in three years, but the elected officials now want to meet more often to keep lines of communication open.

Monday’s joint meeting between the Farmington City Council and the District 192 School Board was so successful, the two groups want to sit down together more often in the future.

What’s more, there is an interest in partnering with each other on projects and events in the years to come.

That’s not to say the two groups don’t work together already. Farmington city administrator David McKnight listed several events and projects the city and school district partner on to date. One of the biggest projects, as least as far as a financial contribution goes, is the placement of a school resource officer in the high school and middle school buildings. The city and school district also share costs and personnel hours when it comes to elections, McKnight said.

But there are other projects that happen where the partnerships are not maybe as visible. While Community Education plans Farmington’s annual Community Expo, the city does do a great deal to help promote the event. Likewise, city staff plans the annual Pollution Prevention Day event that is open every year to grade school students. And school staff participate in the city’s business retention team.

“We have a long history of working together on a number of different areas,” McKnight said.

In the future, McKnight would like to have a meeting with all of the governmental units within the School District 192 boundaries. He’s extended an invitation to six of them, and so far, four have indicated they would be interested in working. That’s to look at the long-term facility needs, the issues having today and how to bring them all together.

Held at Farmington City Hall, the meeting was the first the two groups have held in three years. On a suggestion by city council member Doug Bonar, the group agreed they would like to get together more often.

“It’s great to see that it’s occurring at the administrative level. I’d like to query our council and school board members to see if they also would wish to join the effort and gather on a routine basis,” Bonar said.

Bonar suggested developing a committee of school board members and city council members that could meet on a quarterly basis to talk about the topics that come before each group. In addition, he recommended that the two full boards meet yearly.

“We’re all spending the same dollars for the same shareholders,” Bonar said. “We represent, by and large, Farmington proper ... I think we all have a shared interest in saying, what can we do together that we can do even better than what we could do separately.”

Council member Christy Jo Fogarty agreed with Bonar’s suggestion. In the past, residents have asked her for information about school issues, and she’s not been able to answer the questions. Meeting on a more regular basis will help keep both groups informed on what is going on, she said.

School board members agree.

“I think it’s a great idea,” school board chair Tera Lee said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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