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Fairmont Area Schools to receive $1.1M more

FAIRMONT — The education bill recently signed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz calls for an additional 2 percent in state aid each year for the two school years.

Fairmont Area Schools will receive an additional $1.12 million in education funding over the biennium, including $765,223 in general education funding and $199,838 in special education funds, as well as dollars to maintain 68 voluntary pre-kindergarten seats.

Superintendent Joe Brown explained that the amount of funding a district receives is based on the number of students enrolled, with a district getting so much money for each student.

Fairmont ended this last school year with more students than it began the year, which Brown noted is different from previous years.

“We’re gaining students from other districts,” he said.

“The general education funding basically pays for the salaries and benefits of all the staff,” Brown said. “It also pays for the utilities and things like that that you need to pay for the school buildings.”

“The extra $200,000 for special education will be a nice benefit,” he added.

Brown said it costs more for special education than it does for general education, so the district usually ends up taking more from the general fund to help pay for what it needs.

“The number of students that require special services and special education seems to continue to grow,” said Brown, adding that Fairmont Area hired another special education teacher at the high school for the new school year because of the increased need there.

Brown said the increase of 2 percent is actually what has been approved in additional funding over the last eight years.

Along with money for general and special education, the budget ensures 4,000 pre-kindergarten seats across the state, 68 of which are in Fairmont. School officials say these seats have proved valuable in getting children access to an education sooner.

“I’m very satisfied that this bill was passed. We’ll be in good shape for the next two years,” Brown said.

“The school board has done some major things in the last nine years. When I came here nine years ago, we were using five buildings and now we’re using two. We did the big LED lighting project that will save us money in a few years. We put a new well in a few years ago and that saves us money. The school board has supported a lot of things that the administrators have asked for that will save us money. We run a pretty tight ship,” he said.

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