Every February, MASA Region 1 holds one of the most effective legislative forums in Minnesota. School leaders from the region organize information about school finances and policy issues facing their districts. Legislators from the entire region are invited in to list their school leaders. MREA participated in this year’s forum on Feb. 2 in Rochester.
The program is well designed and allows leaders to deliver a reality check about school finances and policy issues. The organizers are careful to make sure the session is productive and doesn’t devolve into a “woe is us” session. Legislative leaders are then encouraged to ask questions and give their perspectives on how these issues are considered at the Capitol.
The MASA 1 forum is essentially a chance for school leaders to present testimony on a wide range of issues to their legislators without having to drive into St. Paul and try to present to legislators in their various committees. Legislative visits in St. Paul are definitely encouraged, but this forum sets the table for MASA 1 leaders to operate at the Capitol when they do arrive.
MREA strongly encourages the other MASA and Service Cooperatives to adopt this model as an effective way to build relationships and engage rural legislators on a number of education issues. Contact Suzanne Riley at the Southeast Service Cooperative or Superintendent Bruce Klaehn for more information about how to establish and pull off such an event.