Tricounty News

U of M May 2014 Starwatch

Last month Earth caught up to Mars in the orbital race. In May, it’s Saturn’s turn to be overtaken.

We lap the ringed planet on the 10th, when the sun, Earth and Saturn line up and Saturn is at opposition, or opposite the sun from our point of view. Like a full moon, the planet will rise in the southeast at sunset and be up all night, shining from the rather dim constellation Libra.

In mid-evening, after skies darken, we’ll be treated to the sight of all three of the outer planets visible to the naked eye, and all will be bright. Jupiter, the brightest, will be up in the west-northwest; Mars in the south, just northwest of the bright star Spica, in Virgo; and Saturn in the east. If you have any trouble spotting Saturn, it’ll be the bright object above the rising moon on the 14th.

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May 2 Update

Legislative Update and Financial Targets

The legislature continues to move towards the mandatory May 19 end date. As I write this Thursday afternoon, financial targets for the various components of the budget have not been made public. The Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) continues to support the House target of $75 million dollars for education. The largest piece of the allocation goes to an additional 1 percent increase in the general education funding formula. As previously stated, the Senate bill has $41 million for education. Of that, $10 million goes toward the training associated with the implementation of the new teacher evaluation mandates that will go into effect statewide next fall. The governor has allocated $3.5 million that the state will pay toward reduced price lunch for those students qualifying. If you have the opportunity, please contact your local legislators, Senator Bakk, Speaker Thissen, and Governor Dayton to encourage their support of the 1 percent increase in the general education funding formula. The additional 1 percent funding is truly needed by our school district to support the new policies and provisions for implementation of the Safe and Supportive School Act, teacher evaluations, and World’s Best Workforce initiatives.

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Pet talk

Yesterday, I accidently stepped on the cat’s tail, and she let me know I’d committed an error of a horrendous nature. I apologized profusely, of course, but she wasn’t in the mood to forgive. She doesn’t take kindly to tail endangerment.

This isn’t the first time I’ve apologized to my pets – or conversed with them. Far from it. When my dog is lying on the stairway landing and I have to step over her, I say, “Excuse me,” like I owe her that. I also speak platitudes to my animals. They are so pretty. So darling. The nicest kitty – or puppy – ever.

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April 25 Update

Legislative Update

I’d like to provide a brief update on the Conference Committee work that is taking place at the Capitol this week. At this point and time, the Legislature has passed the majority of proposed House and Senate Bills to Conference Committees. The committees are charged with working out the details and financial provisions of each Bill. The Supplemental Appropriations Bill will receive most of the attention and discussion before final decisions are made for financial appropriations. Keep in mind the House has appropriated 75 million and the Senate is at 41 million. For those advocating for education, the House Bill contains an additional 1 percent of funding to the formula allowance, which is approximately $58 per pupil unit. Other topics include K-12 policy and licensure requirements for teachers, and the Health Transparency Act which lists criteria to follow when soliciting, opening, and accepting health insurance plans and coverage.

Please keep in mind the legislative goal is to end this session by Monday, May 19. You still have time to contact your local representatives and advocate for our children and education.

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A Poem for a Special Fan

I seldom ever do this,

But have a special fan,

Who loves to read my poems,

So I’ll write one if I can?

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