Westrom offers update of his work at the LegislatureState Representative Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, who represents part of Douglas County, provided the following update of his work at the Legislature:
By: Rep. Torrey Westrom, Alexandria Echo Press
State Representative Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, who represents part of Douglas County, provided the following update of his work at the Legislature:
We have had a busy week so far going through budgets that have passed through various committees this week. Balancing the budget is the top priority right now.
The K-12 budget came out of the Education committee this week and the State Legislature will be voting on this bill soon. This budget confirms a commitment to prioritize schools and reform education. It provides stable, equitable funding for schools across the state. It’s also creating new accountability programs and relieving schools of costly mandates.
In regard to funding, this bill would increase per-pupil funding by $126 through 2014 and adds funding for small schools with less than 1,000 students. This bill also aims to help our students receive the best education they can have by providing new enrollment options for students attending school in low-performing districts mainly in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area - many of them have more than 60 percent of their students who cannot read at their current grade level.
Scholarships will be available to students and parents wishing to send their students to better performing school districts. This bill also repeals the integration aid program and redistributes the money to the per-pupil formula to benefit every student across the state, not just those students in the metro area.
The integration funding program is universally seen as ineffective and in need of reform.
Moving integration funding to the general formula lets districts spend it as they see best, not on a state-mandated and ineffective program. (This would be done in some school districts.)
The bill also creates an A-F school grading system, making it easy to evaluate and compare schools and it creates a new teacher evaluation system based on student academic achievement and locally-determined factors. This new evaluation will replace the seniority-based retention process and relieves districts of state-imposed mandates.
The new teacher evaluation program gives local districts a say over how their teachers are evaluated and ends the “last hired, first fired” way of evaluating teachers. It is a response to districts that ask for relief from state mandates, improving local control.