Chamber Blog

Ruth Ann Hanson, Chamber Area Director
Ruth Ann Hanson
Lisa Paxton, Chamber CEO
Lisa Paxton
Kathi Nagorski
Kathi Nagorski
Shannon Janco
Shannon Janco

Don't Tamper With Minnesota's Summer Tradition

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Recently the Brainerd Dispatch published an editorial advocating for school districts to choose their starting date instead of abiding by the state law that requires K-12 schools to start after Labor Day. While the Dispatch references the 2005 bill amendment, this issue has been debated for decades, and Post Labor Day school start continues to be important to Minnesota.

Tourism business is still the primary source of economic prosperity in the Brainerd Lakes Area and an earlier starting date will negatively affect our business community. In these challenging economic times, the last thing we need to do is decrease business activity.

Increased learning outcomes are compatible with Minnesota’s tradition of summer. Our state relies on the sales tax revenue from late summer travel and our businesses rely not only on sales revenue, but also on the seasonal employment of high school students.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors supports a post labor day school start. I also serve on the Governor’s Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, a 28 member group of diverse tourism representatives from throughout Minnesota supporting a post labor day school start.

There is no research that substantiates that an earlier starting date will result in greater student achievement. School districts are free to set their calendar any way they choose to improve student achievement - as long as they start after Labor Day. There are many reforms proposed for K-12 education that can be accomplished with the current law: all day-every day kindergarten, longer school days, increasing the number of education days per year, consolidation of calendars among school districts, and many more. Reforms that compliment students, families, and the many businesses that depend on the current school calendar can be accomplished.

Let’s investigate other tools to increase learning outcomes – changing the existing law is not necessary to make progressive change in Minnesota’s educational achievement rates.

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Brainerd City Council Meeting, March 1, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

At the Brainerd City Council meeting last night, they heard a presentation from Brainerd Lakes Chamber CEO, Lisa Paxton about the budgeting priorities of government. Lisa shared highlights from the recent Chamber survey about the economy. The Brainerd-Baxter Business Council has offered to give assistance to the City in future budgeting discussions by sharing their experiences with budget cuts. What is the City's shared vision and what is the road map for getting there? An example of the managing for results process was distributed which highlighted measurable results.

The Council approved forgiving $100,000 of the Wausau Paper revolving loan after some discussion and hearing from two Brainerd citizens. No significant change in the environmental effects of the paper plant are foreseen with the expansion in production.

Whether or not to raise City fees for building, fire, and planning permits was an issue of much discussion last night. Several Councilors mentioned they received phone calls voicing concern over the fee increase and the Council did not approve raising fees for permits.

The Council approved paying the lease and continuing to use the BNSF parking lot north of Front Street in Downtown for the next year.

The Personnel & Finance Committee began a discussion of the City's business subsidy policy, but took no action on it. Sheila Haverkamp, BLADC, assisted with this discussion and will continue to do so as needed in the future.

As always, the Brainerd Dispatch has great coverage of the meeting.

Emily Northey, Chamber Main Street Coordinator, enorthey@explorebrainerdlakes.com

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