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WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 18, 2011, 09:48 AM

Leaders from area school districts meet with Minnesota's Education Commissioner

Perham, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Minnesota's newly appointed Education Commissioner is hitting the road to see what's needed in rural school districts. Administrators from 10 school districts met with Dr. Cassellius. Excluding funding, they were asked to express their main concerns for education in Minnesota.

Perham, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Minnesota's newly appointed Education Commissioner is hitting the road to see what's needed in rural school districts. Dr. Brenda Cassellius (Ca-sell-ee-us) was appointed by Governor Dayton just before the new year. Cassellius has spent 20-years as a teacher, administrator, and superintendent.

In Perham today, Cassellius says she needs to hear from the people who know school systems best.

DR. BRENDA CASSELLIUSMN Education Commissioner: “There's not a lot of wiggle room for schools so this is a very serious time for us in education around funding and I know the governor is very committed. Education is a priority for his and we're going to do everything we can so that we can create better outcomes for our children.”

The state’s deficit is 6.2 billion dollars. Despite it, Cassellius says she's turning to school leaders and students to find out what can be done.

Administrators from 10 school districts met with Dr. Cassellius. Excluding funding, they were asked to express their main concerns for education in Minnesota.

Cassellius was hit with suggestions from across the board. School leaders from D-G-F and New York Mills want a better connection built between the high schools and higher education schools.

In Fergus Falls it was simplifying the system. LP-A was worried about losing its newest, enthusiastic and inspiring teachers to cuts. In Perham, leaders say the public is asking for more accountability in the schools.

"How can we define the kind of change that the public seems to be seeking and how can we implement that kind of change without losing all that we hold that has value."

Students from Perham and surrounding districts chose to talk about funding. In particular the struggles for small lake communities to get levies passed. Cassellius says the strategy needs to surround community involvement.

"It's about getting out making it more personable. They're always going to vote yes if you do that, emotional attachment is a strong attachment so if you do that, levies should pass, but ya know we'll see I guess."

Cassellius says one thing in favor of her efforts is the state has a government on board to change education.

"It's like we live in the boonies up here with 2,500 people in our town and they want to come here and talk to us. It's like why would they want to do that, but it was really re-assuring and really gave us some hope."

Perham school district has cut more than 4 million dollars in the last 8 years.

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