St. Paul Teachers Union Suggests Grassroots Recruitment to Raise School Funds

February 13, 2018 06:14 PM

As St. Paul schools ready for spring, invigorated by a tentative contract deal between the teachers union and the district, there is increased focus on funding and how to bring in more money.

One possibility could be a grassroots recruitment effort.

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It happened in Baltimore last summer, when teachers went door-to-door talking with students and families in a recruitment campaign to bring students back into the public school system after losing 3,000 in three years. Similar efforts have been made in Milwaukee.

RELATED: St. Paul Schools, Union: Next Step is to Grow Resources

Nick Faber, president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, says those efforts have worked.

"What we've seen particularly in Milwaukee is to bring students back who they have lost to charter and voucher schools," Faber said. "So literally knowing who those families are and bringing them back, and they've been successful in that."

Per-pupil funding is tied to enrollment. For every student who attends St. Paul schools, the district currently gets a minimum of $6,188 from the state.

It's part of the reason St. Paul teachers could soon be recruiting students to come back.

"To be able to be out at the doors talking with community members, parents and families, about why their kids should come to our schools is the greatest selling point of all," Faber added.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, in the last five years enrollment has declined by more than 1,600 students in St. Paul –
from 40,116 in the 2011-12 school year to 38,461 in 2016-17.

RELATED: St. Paul Teachers, School District Reach Tentative Agreement; Strike Called Off

Faber says he hopes to be hitting the streets in collaboration with the district this spring.

"We have some of the most incredible educators in the state, and they know how to meet the needs of kids," Faber said. "And we feel like, not to be in super competition with our neighboring districts, but we can do the best job possible for your kids. They should be coming here."

If the district can bring back those 1,600 students at the current per-pupil state rate, that would amount to more than $10 million.

Over the same timeframe in Minneapolis, according to the Minnesota Department of Education, enrollment increased by about 800 students. 
 

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Jessica Miles

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