Did you happen to notice our CIHS Bluejacket Marching Band taking to the streets in the Isanti Parade and the Forest Lake Parade in early July? Our students have been working so hard to prepare for their parade performances. There is nothing like the sound of a marching band to bring joy to our local community celebrations!
I’m excited to share that our summer programming is in full swing, with full participation rates following last summer’s restrictions. Thanks to an infusion of state funding targeted for these programs, we have more students participating in summer school, credit recovery, enrichment activities and other student growth opportunities. Knowing that this funding comes from one-time pandemic recovery funds that won’t be available in the future, we are making the most of our temporary boost to make sure our students are engaged and supported. It is so refreshing to see so many students involved in classes, as well as music, driver’s education, activities, and extended year services.
As you may know, on June 30, after a lengthy special session, the Minnesota Legislature passed the K-12 education funding bill. It will provide a moderate 2.45% increase to the basic education formula for next year and a 2.0% increase the following year. For Cambridge-Isanti Schools, that translates to approximately $900,000 next year and $700,000 the following year. Of course, we appreciate any funding we receive, but this falls far short of closing the funding gap that districts experience due to basic inflation, much less helping our Cambridge-Isanti School District recover from the last three years of budget cuts totaling $8.5 million.
Over the last decade, education funding for rural Minnesota has been severely lacking. And, the difference between the highest funded districts and the lowest funded districts in our state is rising at an unacceptable rate. As we have reported before, Cambridge-Isanti Schools is in the bottom 7% in per-pupil spending and revenue following our three years of budget cuts.
We have met with our local legislators and appreciate their understanding and advocacy. After meeting with Representative Brian Johnson, Representative Kurt Daudt, and Senator Mark Koran, we agreed that an increase on the basic formula was the best the Cambridge-Isanti Schools could hope for. After all, Cambridge-Isanti doesn’t receive many categories of specialized funding that other school districts receive. We agreed that more work needs to be done to bring more equalization aid to our district to address funding disparities from one community to another. While equalization was not included in this year’s budget, we are thankful for their partnership advocating for rural Minnesota school districts.
Our state is at a crossroads, and it is clear that local priorities will need local support. So, as we approach a new school year, we invite you to get involved in our local schools. Our young people are the future of our community, and they are counting on your support.
This year, we are excited to welcome back volunteers into our schools and visitors to our events and student performances. We have an incredible community and incredible kids. We owe them an outstanding education.
As your local public school district, we are dedicated to our community’s local values and priorities. Please don’t allow national news reports or social media posts to paint a broad-brush picture of what is happening in our schools. Come visit and see for yourself. Our staff are your friends, neighbors, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, coaches and mentors who have answered the call to inspire and teach our children.
In Cambridge-Isanti Schools, our mission is to develop well-rounded, responsible, respectful, honest, compassionate and self-disciplined citizens who achieve at high levels as leaders. We work in partnership with families, staff, local businesses, employers, and community organizations to envision the future we want for our children.
We are committed to local community values and priorities—inspiring every student, every day the Bluejacket Way!