The Rochester School Board is hoping to establish a little more influence at the state level.
During a recent meeting, the school board approved the creation of a legislative committee, which will be a subgroup of the board and work with the Legislature.
Board member Cathy Nathan said it's a good time to jumpstart the committee, considering the financial shortfalls that are likely coming down the pike for the school district. A large percentage of the district’s funding comes from the state.
“This is just a really good time to have a legislative committee,” Nathan said. “Even if we have an impact on one piece of legislation, it will be worth getting it off the ground and getting it started.”
According to the charge statement for the new committee, it serves various purposes. For example, it includes researching and developing annual legislative priorities, and coordinating opportunities for board members to testify and advocate for different issues.
Another responsibility of the committee will be to keep the rest of the board, as well as other “stakeholders” of the district, apprised of issues happening at the Legislature.
There are still some unclarified details. It's unknown how extensive the committee's work will be. It’s also unknown which board members will sit on the committee, especially considering three of the positions on the board will be decided in the November election.
Nonetheless, board member Melissa Amundsen suggested it would be beneficial to get the committee up and running in some form ahead of the Legislature’s next session.
Prior to approval of the committee’s formation, school board chairwoman Deborah Seelinger referenced the committee as a possibility during a candidate forum in mid-September.
“We feel like we need to take a little bit more proactive stance with our legislators,” Seelinger said. “We monitor some of the things that are going on; we know the superintendent has done some testifying at the state Capitol, but I think the school board members could do more in and of themselves.”