ST. CLOUD -- Education continues to be a hot topic in central Minnesota and at the state capitol.

St. Cloud DFL Representative Dan Wolgamott and House Education Committee Chair Jim Davnie held a town hall at the Promise Neighborhood of Central Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.

Parents, teachers, community members, and local school board members gathered together to discuss some legislation being presented at the capitol as well as the statewide K-12 budget being worked on for the next two years.

John Smith is the Chair of the Executive Committee at Promise Neighborhood. He says meetings like this are opportunities for communities to share their stories with lawmakers.

We need to hear from everybody. We need to hear from the community, we need to hear from parents, stakeholders, decision-makers. We have a lot of changing demographics in St. Cloud.

Some of the topics discussed included staff training, teacher retention, the cost of breakfast and lunch, higher education options, and open enrollment.

Smith says schools do not exist in a vacuum and are ground zero for what is happening in the surrounding community.

I think there’s some common threads to what we heard today. We talked about teachers of color, we talked about kids struggling in school, we talked about families and community. I think what I would like to see is that the work becomes more inclusive, that we include more people in the conversations.

The $900 million dollar state-wide two-year budget will be officially presented at the capitol next week.

It includes funding for support staff in schools: paras, counselors, social workers, therapists, psychologists, and aims to address insufficient funding for special education state-wide.

It also includes funding for grow your own programs to help paras become certified teachers, as well as monies to increase post-secondary education options for students still in high school.


If approved, it would be the largest budget in state history.