M innesota’s 12 education districts are voluntary, regional organizations of school districts designed to increase student opportunity through member cooperation. State law requires an education district to be comprised of at least four school districts, and member districts must be contiguous.
The member school districts fund the ed district, and each has a representative on the ed district’s school board, which functions as its governing body. Ed districts also are required to report to the Minnesota Department of Education.
One of the greatest strengths of education districts is their unique ability to meet the diverse needs of their member districts. Most of Minnesota’s ed districts provide special education services for students with physical, mental or emotional disabilities and their families in the member districts. These services may include area learning centers, day treatment programs, higher-level specialized services for special needs students, or Autism Spectrum Disorder programs — services and resources for schools and families to ensure that students with disabilities and/or special learning needs have access to tools and programs to maximize their development and learning.
In addition to special needs services, ed districts may provide a wide range of other programs and services that are responsive to the identified needs of their member districts. Such programs may include technology and telecommunications access, staff professional development, technical education and career development, grant writing and administration, early childhood school readiness, and Adult Basic Education (ABE). One ed district may plan and implement a professional development workshop day for 500 teachers, and another ed district may oversee Gifted, Creative & Talented (GCT) programs for its member schools, such as math competitions or a science fair.
Regardless of their program focus, each ed district increases and improves educational opportunities for learners by facilitating cooperation and coordination among its members.