Governor’s Education Policy and Supplemental Budget Items

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will host a conference call with Assistant Commissioner Kevin McHenry and State Librarian Jennifer Nelson on Monday, April 13. Here are the specifics as shared by MDE

The Governor’s education policy and supplemental budget bills include two proposals recommended by State Library Services. There has been much conversation about the two proposals and we want to ensure that our intent in recommending these changes is clear. In addition to the information provided here, Jennifer Nelson and Kevin McHenry are hosting a conference call on Monday, April 13 from 2:30 to 3 p.m. (1-888-742-5095, Conference Code: 3300487022) that will give you more information about the proposals and an opportunity to ask questions.

A provision in the education policy bill would change Minnesota Statutes, section 134.20, Subdivision 2 to require that the governing board of a regional public library system employ a full-time chief administrative officer. The proposal was modified by the House (HF 1591) after conversations with MDE, to require that the governing board of a regional public library system employ a chief administrative officer who is compensated by no more than one regional public library system.

This proposal was made following State Library Services’ experience in administering state and federal funds managed by two regional systems that contracted with the same individual to serve as chief administrative officer. In addition to concerns about accountability and the appropriate use of state and federal funds, the potential for conflict of interest is high, particularly with an individual who is on contract for two organizations with different business models.

The House proposal addresses these concerns and will ensure the challenges that one regional system may experience with a director do not directly impact the operations of another regional system, nor lead to a perceived or actual conflict of interest in the use of state and federal funds.

The supplemental budget bill includes a provision that modifies Minnesota Statutes, section 134.355 Subdivisions 8-10 to allow regional library telecommunications aid to be used for a wider array of expenses related to providing internet access. The bill clarifies that a regional public library system applicant and the libraries included in its application must file for e-rate, and uses e-rate funding commitment decision letters as a basis for distributing the appropriation. Further, it aligns eligible expenditures with non-voice e-rate category 1 services. It also stipulates that aid may be used for category 2 services if sufficient funds remain once category 1 needs are met in each funding year.

This proposal updates statutory language and will give aid applicants more flexibility in using regional library telecommunications aid to cover the wide range of costs associated with providing internet access in libraries. It also increases accountability for the use of regional library telecommunications aid.

We hope you’ll be able to join the conference call, but please don’t hesitate to contact State Library Services with any other questions. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation to attend the conference call, email Jennifer Nelson or call 651-582-8791. 

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