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 Response Page - Mindy Greiling  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Mindy Greiling Interview of

The Questions:

1. _6.7 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, should the Legislature significantly increase state aid to school
districts in 2009?

2. _5.6 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, should some school districts receive more funding be cause of higher
costs of living in urban areas?

3. _6.1 average__ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, should school districts be required to demonstrate how additional
funding will produce better student learning?

 Cam Gordon (10) (8) (5)

It should demonstrate how is has been used to do so, not WILL do so.  How can they demonstrate something that has not happened yet?  Measure the results and then base decisions on doing them again or not on those results.

Paul Hauge (9) (9) (9)

Jennifer Armstrong  (10) (10) (0)

I think the crux of arguments about changing the way we fund schools boils down to two central pieces:

1.  Even though we talk about the state having a constitutional obligation to provide a high quality education for every Minnesota child, I don't think people really mean it.  We have six counties in MN with fewer than 1,000 K-12 students.  Do we really want to provide the same quality education to these geographically remote students?  I'm thinking advanced chemistry, calculus, and AP History.  What are we saying to these children and families when we say to them, you can take these classes if you move to the Cities?  We need to get over fair is equal and start exploring multiple delivery models.  We need to start collectively asking and answering visioning questions around:  What is a world class education? What is a 21st century education?  Do the standards define that, or do we want something more, e.g., technology, health, world languages, critical thinking, creative arts (art, music, theater, dance, performance, band, orchestra, choir)?  How do we make sure every child in the state has access to resources to accomplish that education?  Are you really going to deliver Chinese language instruction to students in St. Louis County?

2.  There's fundamental disagreement about the role of government and who should pay for it.  We've lost our sense of public good.  Today, people relate to government as consumers:  I pay taxes, you provide these goods and services.  It used to be people related to government as community-builders:  We need a city hall, hospital, library, school?  Let's build it.  I think somebody needs to have the courage to engage Minnesota in a conversation (public debate? perhaps ask MPR Public Insights Radio to do a series of community forums, statewide), about whether or not the MN tax structure should be based on a percent of income.  As a middle-class Minnesotan, I pay roughly 16, 17, 18, 20% of my income to taxes.  What of the 47 Minnesotan's that bring in over a billion each year?  Should they pay the same?  I don't know the answer to that question.  All I know is I'm willing to pay my fair share.  I think the tax structure should be mildly progressive.  I don't think the tax structure should be built around the fortunes of 47 people.  There's too much risk inherent in those revenues going away.  Instead, I think the tax structure should be weighted so that all essentially pay the same percent of income, but for the mega-wealthy it's paid through luxury taxes somehow.  That gives them the option of buying their airplanes and yachts here or elsewhere.  But then, if their taxes are optional, so too shouldn't be mine?

A wisdom-keeper once told me the people at the cutting edge of knowledge -- the Edisons, Einsteins and Newtons of the world, aren't the ones who have all the answers.  They're the ones asking new questions.  We need to be less invested in the answers (the solution du jour), and more willing to participate in asking the hard questions.

Question 1: Duh.  We've only been disinvesting in our schools for the past twenty years.

Question 2: Note: This question is VERY poorly worded.  It will delight the "divide and conquer" strategists, which is not something I'm certain you meant to do.  OF COURSE, my local superintendent and neighbors despise any hint metro districts might get more money.  (He's not at all dissuaded by the idea that most state income tax revenues are generated in the Cities.)  Taken in isolation, I'm sure you'll get LOTS of comments back, both sides.  Each piece of HF 4178 will have positive/negative local impacts, depending on the local characteristics of these three layers:  students, central support (district) services and community-based variables.  Local school districts operate in a CONTEXT.  One of the things HF 4178 begins to address is the CONTEXT of delivering a high quality education.  To take one of those variables out of context is a disservice to the bill, and a disservice to the state discussion.  Imagine peeling an onion.  You need all of the layers to have a healthy dialogue about the aesthetic of the whole. 

Question 3: Absolutely not.  Let's fix the holes in the cafeteria ceilings, get class sizes down, update our textbooks, fill and staff our libraries and music rooms, AND put current technology in place before we start asking more of our schools. 

That's NOT to say we shouldn't be using the MCA data to identify schools showing great gains and figure out what they're doing right so we can generate and spread best practices.  (By the way, where is the University in all of this?  How is it we can get "More than 125 experts, including University scientists and public and private natural resource planners and professionals," to participate in an 18-month effort to produce the MN Statewide Conservation and Preservation Plan (, but we can't manage to figure out these three questions about the Achievement Gap:  What is it?  Where is it?  What the heck can we do about it?

I guess there's a third piece I'd add to the crux of the arguments:  We cannot hold schools accountable for all of society's ills.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Carlos Mariani, Myron Orfield, Jermaine Toney and others for beginning to use the words structural racism.  We need to address the barriers to student achievement -- household employment, housing, transportation, medical care, etc. It's not just a matter of making sure children are Ready 4 K, it's making sure children arrive at school ready to learn every day.

Does it matter that I live in a MN county where 47% of jobs pay less than a living wage.  Should we be having conversations about the things that perpetuate poverty?  Absolutely.  Example:  I read a 2006 report that estimated the annual MN public cost of alcohol use at ~27% of total state revenues.  Say what?  I can send you the data.  The current DWI system is incredibly regressive.  You and I can likely pay the court fines, keep our jobs; impacts to low-income children and families are horrendous.

And so we're back to complex layers.  Like I said, I don't have all of the answers, but I really, really do think people need to start asking the hard questions and STOP framing things in terms of this or that.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mindy Greiling and those willing to stand with her for bringing conversations about school funding to a new level.  It's very, very hard to appreciate the whole onion when people position things in terms of discrete layers.

We can do better than a toggle switch.

We're Minnesotans.

Jan Hively (8) (5) (3)

Wonderful goals with attention to the details of implementation.  Does it have a chance of passage? 

Question 1.  This funding is what the state promised and never gave. Why should we beg for it?

Question 2.  Too much time is being spent now testing "basic skills" achievement. 

Question 3.  My answer would be "10" on this if I thought that all of the people who count on well-educated high school graduates had a chance to define the goals for "better student learning."  I'd state goals that would match up with the skills, habits and attitudes related to productivity -- which go far beyond 3rd grade reading and 8th grade algebra -- and a process for learning that includes the factors identified by research to be important to "better learning."

Jim Keller (2) (0) (10)

This appears to be an increase of over 50 per cent (7 to 11 B per biennium) with no need specifically demonstrated

The change to a flat support of elementary and secondary students is questionable with no demonstration that the costs are equal

What is the need for additional pupil aid in low income areas - it is my understanding that there is already relatively more spent on special ed in these areas.

Cost of living adjustments for the metro area seems questionable, since the rural areas have more difficulty hiring teachers than the metro area

Charles Lutz (10) (8) (8)

Vici Oshiro (10) (7) (5)

Best part about Greiling's proposals is long range view and a plan on how to get from  here to there.  We owe P S Minnesota a big thank you for their research and leadership.  Legislature has a history of micromanagement and short term thinking.

On cost of living issue, that's been around a long time with differing data some supported idea that cost of living is higher in metro area, some did not.  Show me the comprehensive numbers.

On demonstrating how additional funding will produce better student learning.  This looks like it could easily lead to make work and distract from basic mission.

Dennis L. Johnson (0) (0) (10)

Until States fund the student (parents) and not the bureaucracies the schools have built up, there will be no improvements in education. The states should get out of the education business and parents should be free to choose home schooling, on line education, or their choice of private or religious schools. Costs above the taxpayer-funded level will be the responsibility of the parents.

Shirley Heaton

The topic is of national concern. My general comments are: Year-round schooling runs against the grain of the American lifestyle. Family vacations are generally planned around the kids' summer break. Family values are already in jeopardy. The Year-Round proposal would play havoc with family practices, here. As for financial assistance, I have always maintained that the emphasis should be placed at the elementary school level during the formative years of the student. By high school, too many questionable study and learning habits tend to be already 'etched in stone'.

Now the survey: Strong agreement with the pre-kindergarten concept. I have often wondered why some grad student hasn't undertaken the task of proposing standards for pre-school educators to get the ball rolling? Nos. 2 and 3 I give take a neutral stand only because I feel as for (2) student performance should be a determining factor. With (3) schools should enter competitive application for funds similar to the grant fund request process.

Patty Hague (10) (8) (2)

Donald H. Anderson (10) (8) (5)

Education is very important in the overall economy of the State and cannot be treated as it has in recent years with more responsibility being placed on the local school system and its own ability to collect revenue regardless of the economic and age structure of that community. Thus the State much play a major role, as well as the Federal government in providing adequate funds for the education of our younger generation.

Clarence Shallbetter (4) (5) (9)

John Nowicki (10) (7) (3)

Robert Klungness (10) (6) (7)

Lyall Schwarzkopf (4) (4) (0)

The teacher's union negotiates contracts with the School Boards.  If they want more money for areas that have a higher cost, it will be negotiated.  In 2009, it will be very difficult for the legislature and governor to balance the state budget.  With the downturn of the economy it will be even more difficult.  We don't need to raise state aid in this situation. 

Craig Westover (5) (5) (0)

The problem with Greiling's approach is that while recognizing the individual differences among students (by defining different funding requirements for students with different backgrounds), Greiling continues to provide funding to a monopoly state-run education system with aggregate standards and curriculum. A better alternative is funding individual families based on differences, enabling them to make education decisions based on their individual needs. Using Greiling's numbers, here is an alternative approach:

Given the cost of basic education funding at $7,500 per student, a family can choose to send its children to any accredited school -- public or private, secular or religious. The state will pay directly to the school 80 percent of the cost of tuition up to $7,500. Families would pay 20 percent of the cost of tuition. (The 20 percent requirement would be waived for low-income families). This approach brings new money into education without raising taxes on everyone and enables individuals to make decisions about the education it wants for its children.

Individuals without children could receive a tax credit equal to 80 percent (up to $7,500) of every dollar donated to a public or private school or a scholarship foundation providing K-12 scholarships. This also puts new money into education without raising taxes. A similar program should be implemented for business and corporate contributions to K-12 education.

The additional $2,500 per student based on free or reduced meals and the 20 percent formula allowance for students with limited English proficiency should be attached to individual students and provided to the schools they choose to attend at an 80 percent rate to the school (with the 20 percent holdback waived if a school has a significantly high proportion of low-income and/or limited English students). The remaining 20 percent and any unused portion of the $7,500 allowance after tuition is paid should go to the district school in the geographic area in which the family lives on an annual basis for a set period of years (e.g. three years) to compensate the district school for lost revenue.

The level of funding is not the problem with education. The problem is how the money is spent. No group of educators, legislators or bureaucrats can create an education system the meets the needs of all students. A state-run education system fosters conflicts among people of different values and different education expectations. Under the current system, the only way a family can ensure its needs are met is by using the political power of the state and forcing its views on others. A system based on choice doesn’t eliminate conflict, but a system based on choice provides a way to resolve conflict without coercion. People will choose and take their dollars where they are best served.

As long as the focus is on the education system, rather than on individual students, education will continue to be a funding black hole.

David Broden (8) (4) (2)

Question 1: Yes but with a strong sense of purpose of the increase--not funds for funding sake only but with a purpose to upgrade the overall quality of education across the state--this must include innovation in education such as on-line capability to enable sharing of teacher skills across districts--we do not need duplicate teachers in all districts --share the skill and direct the funds to the students. Funds in some cases should be for technology and tactility upgrade if that fits the funding criteria --w need to use a portion of the added funding to achieve individual instruction ---and further reduce the group teaching-need to focus on innovation in techniques with the overall fund increase. 

Question 2:  No, this should not be the primary criteria for funding distribution--we can establish some sort of a formula for cost of living adjustment, district size or travel/bus distances but we should not or cannot discriminate between the students in rural Minnesota and the urban/metro--the student across Minnesota need access to the same basic capability--there may be some factors if additional courses are added but we need to be careful--rural students should not be penalized because they are from the farm or small town-simply does not make sense in any way. 

Question 3: Measuring results before the funds are spent makes no sense. Defining a way to have strong purpose for the funds--asking the districts to show how the added funds will be applied--not just we have more money lets spent it thinking--so a monitoring system with out a check list and  excessive mandates tied to it should be able to work. A way to reduce the funds to a district if value is not shown each year  does make sense--this measurement needs both local district--and state oversight--but not by a bureaucratic mess to manage the measurement.

Mary Tambornino (10) (10) (10) 

Bob White

This must have been an energizing session.  I don't know Rep. Greiling, but your excellent summary suggests that she has a remarkable combination of experience, vision, practicality and, not least, willingness to work hard at translating inventive ideas into appealing legislation.

    My ratings below are short of 10 because I'm sure there are reasonable arguments against some of her proposals -- arguments about which I'm insufficiently informed.  Certainly education funding increases will be difficult to support when the state faces daunting fiscal problems, compounded (perhaps exponentially) by the national and international financial crisis.  But neither can the state afford to fail doing everything possible to improve K-12 education.

Chris Brazelton (9) (5) (10)

Question 1:  Only if we can come to agreement on raising the revenue to pay for it.

Question 2:  Some of those costs are offset by access to public transportation, something almost non existent in rural areas.

Bill Hamm (0) (0) (0)

All of these questions lead into the "New Minnesota Miracle" model not out of it. A little history lesson here, 1967 the Federal Dept. of Education was created and staffed strongly by the Teachers Union Representation organized in 1964 as a result of the Civil Rights act. Now you have the groundwork for the Federal takeover of Education which is what the first "Minnesota Miracle" was all about, selling us out to the socialist takeover of education by connecting up to the Regional Education Laboratory System ours was MCREL. MCREL became the intermediary between Federal and State Departments of Education as well as the source of all curricular material.  

    Let us take a moment to describe what our education system had looked like when we were truly an education leader. Our education system was first and foremost a "Liberal Arts" knowledge based program that was locally controlled right down to the choice of curriculum and dress code. Within that system every segment competed with every other segments providing proof positive of what worked and what did not as well as who was able to teach and who was not while our districts still had authority to deal with less than productive teachers. Our school system existed for the purpose of teaching our children what they needed to know to move onward and upward after High School, it was student based. The root word of teacher is teach and the definition of teach is to impart the knowledge of, (whatever subject was being taught) and that is what a "Liberal Arts" based system does and has done since Greek times.

    Let us look at the UN based "World Class" education model now, ( first signed on to in 1959 by Eisenhower, signed out of by Jimmy Carter, and signed back onto by Ronald Reagan). The "World Class" education model has some extreme problems right from the start due to the mixture of phonetic and cuneiform (often called "see and say") learning styles in its language education component. It gets worse when you also come to realize that it is based upon the needs of global business (the collective needs not individual) and is based on minimal needs of business not what is best for the child (grade 8 standards rather than the grade 10.5 we had before). Looking deeper you find a psychology and philosophy based education system not a  knowledge based one, in short it is no longer teaching but training that is happening in our schools. Finally we come down to the kingpin here, how do you get rid of a tenured bad teacher this is what the teachers union was about doing in this whole deal, making it almost impossible to get rid of people who many time should not have chosen this profession. It actually goes deeper than that as we use to draw our best and brightest to the teaching profession, now it is less important how intelligent they are than it is that they are good team players. We stifle the system out of any change oriented activities instead of encouraging them as we did in the old system that could make or break them, we undermine any education competition as divisive and avoid by all means any objective analysis of teacher performance under this new "World Class" model. In short this system is bad from every angle yet the push is on to deepen this bad connection again. While this is the extremely short version, we do need to work hard and together to get back to the true "Liberal Arts Knowledge Based" system controlled by local citizens and competing against each other academically again. I trust what works not any central control model that undermines local input, ideas, and growth.

David Pundt

I didn't get much beyond response number 1 in your discussion of HF 4178. The bill includes something called the Location Equity Index that guarantees Minneapolis will continue to get the biggest percentage of ed money, just like it does now. With that whopper from the pols, didn't seem like going on made much sense. The bill is an election year ploy to charge taxpayers more for education even though schools are graduating fewer students (a deal any industry would love to get, charge more money for fewer products). More money but no improvements in an outdated system. The miracle is that so many can say so much with a straight face.

Bill Kuisle (2) (0) (10)

Ray Schmitz (8) (8) (2)

First, I have this general feeling that the school board system is no longer an effective method of administering schools.  If there is statewide funding, and professional administrative staff at the local level, what real function does the board perform/

Second, Does the current administrative system in local districts duplicate and/or replicate function.  That is, does each district need the cadre of administrators in curriculum, programming, etc. or could those functions be provided by the state since the requirements are put in place by the state department.

Question 3:  This again simply leads to the grant writing model taking precedence in the systems, that is, to get the money we have to write a proposal so we hire folks to do so, this does not necessarily lead to real change.  I heard a military recruiter commenting that high performing high school grads are not able to pass the military placement tests.

Rob Duchscher (10) (5) (5)

All public schools can use more funding. But we need funding without chains.  Shifting money around or allocating funds with specific targets, doesn’t help the General Fund in many situations.  Special Education costs are killing all of us.

Our mission for our 28,000 students is “to educate all students to reach their full potential”.  We are wondering if we can accomplish this mission in today’s market. ISD 196 is somewhat of a poster child for finances. We are sitting really well and enjoy great support from our Community. However this comes from hard work and a solid 5 year plan. It would be great if the State could provide us with a 2 – 4 year plan so we can take “small course corrections” versus massive corrections. 

Qcomp is a great program. Our District has embraced it. This won’t be very popular with the Union that supported me for 3 elections but revamp the tenure system. Any industry has good employees and bad employees. We need to be able to get rid of the employees who no longer think they need to do the job.

Keep the focus on “cores”. We need to get these students ready to compete world wide.

Lastly, a longer school year. Something that needs to be looked at in my opinion. Currently not enough contact days.

Rod Tietz

This is a terrible plan.  Throwing an additional $2 billion at education simply because they need the money will not create a better system. To say this plan some how represents the work of the Minnesota Miracle is a insult to those who truly worked on that project.

Bob and Jackie Olson (1) (2) (7)

I believe that the multitude of tax formulas should be simplified whether they are fair and equitable or not.  Reading the proposal makes me think that the additional "improvements" are neither. I wonder about the additional $2 billlion cost especially at these hard times.and also wonder about making kindergarten an all day affair or special ed at age 3 at the school.


Anne Finch (10) (8) (2)

Incentives to economize need to come for the WHOLE of MN not school district by school district.  I will use the example of creating Smart Board classes.....having each school district fund the creation is not as cost effective as creating ONCE then giving to ALL school districts to customize from a base.  Same with training teachers on this technology.  Vs only affording to send a what businesses do.  Have a "Virtual Classroom/ELearning" set up, one instructor can teach literally hunderds of teachers without anyone traveling anywhere.  I think on the whole we can be more effective with our $$ vs. having the districts nickel and dime their savings.  Similarly schools that have re-engineered their classes into a more problem solving/engineering focus.  How to we incent them to publish these for use by all schools.  The technology is now there to make all this readily available to all schools vs. again having them all do it on their own over and over.

4. So we are letting the entertainment/leasure industry drive our kids education?!   Maybe is why global specialists see America's future as the entertainment capital of the world while India and China take over the innovation space!  Shameful if that is the reason we can't go to longer school years.  Challenge those industries to propose programs that mix entertainment and education as a class maybe summer becomes picking education camps we would fund instead?!  See TechID Camp ( and as two places that have made "fun" summer learning camps.  Year long school doesn't have to mean more time sitting behind a desk in a school building....lets get creative.

5. YES!

9. Huge cost savings and for today's learners we must adjust our teaching methods to the new reality of expectations based on the multi media world our kids are growing up in.  The standard methods are no longer a match for how their brains are wired.    Read books on how Gen Y learns best, also the "New Brain".

13. I agree.  I would suggest that they are able to stop focusing on fund raising and focus instead of engaging not just the students but the parents.  Engagement at home is a critical success factor that all the in-school work in the world can't totally address.   Yes this may mean some funding has to go to parent engagement.

 Question 1. YES!!!!!  Highest priority above all else we must invest in our future.  We must change the social reward structure for teachers vs. other professions.  We need a campaign to help those "that don't have kids", "already raised my kids", "I pay private already" understand the long and short term ramifications of NOT funding better and benefit OF funding better.  What happens to whole economy and support structure when done well vs. done poorly.

Question 2. I do agree teachers in metro areas have a higher cost of living thus need higher salaries.  That said I think we also need to pay a premium to attract good teachers to very rural areas in MN...while their cost of living may be low...there are other disadvantages we need to counter to give similar quality teachers to the more remote areas.  (Also need to be open to other teaching models to address that problem - distance learning, virtual classrooms, e-learning).  But I do not think that metro schools should get better equipment, connections or access to resources.  That needs to be evened out so students across the state get consistent opportunities.

Question 3. I don't believe all school districts have equal "talent/experience" with how to turn additional funds into equally better learning.  I think some schools do much better with their $$ than others and we would be better off with best practices across the schools driving methods to leverage funding to produce better student learning vs. promoting re-inventing the wheel school district by school district.  That shouldn't take away from the flexibility that is needed for special needs of a school district.  I do feel that school districts should be able to make a case for special funding uses due to their special district needs (ie low at home reading skills might justify more after school tutor/reading resources).  In business under performing departments get "help/expertise" from solidly performing departments vs. being asked to solve it themselves.  We need to find ways to get more bang for our buck by leveraging best practices cross MN vs asking the schools to come up with ideas for change.  At some point it doesn't even become an option to ask for help, they are "assigned help" just like in business.

Dan Loritz (3) (2) (9)

If we start with the assumption that there will never be enough money for the schools (echoes of Rudy Perpich) the question we are left with is what is the appropriate amount of investment to get the results that we need. We need to shift the discussion from "we need this" to "we need to use our funding in the following way".  One Perpichism - Rudy would ask school superintends, when they came looking for new money, to tell them what the new money would be used for. Once they laid out their priorities he would say "How important is it? They would say "Very important." Rudy would then say "No really how important is it? and they would say "It is very, very important". He would ask again and they would say very, very, very important. This would go on. He would then say if it so important what can you stop doing that is less important to pay for these things. The conversation would end there. I agree with what Rudy was driving at (I suspect you already know that).

Robert A. Freeman
(6) (10) (10)

 According to this recap, schools will only be required to file a plan with the Education Dept of how this 50% increase if they are not making progress.  This appears to be the only transparency measure in the proposal.  There is apparently no plan for accountability to parents or taxpayers, no consequences if the funding infusion does not work, no attempts to reform the way we train or pay teachers.  It is difficult to see how this can be described as anything other than throwing money at the problem.  New increases in education funding must be tied to results or at least tied to a plan of how results will be achieved.  It is not even clear what will be considered an improvement in results.

David Alden (8) (5) (2)

Donna Anderson (6) (5) (10)

Ruth Usem (8) (8) (8)

I am casting my vote(s) with the understanding that there will be good oversight of any additional state aid increase in 2009.

Don Mink (10) (7) (9)

Glenn S. Dorfman (0) (5) (10)

Robert J. Brown (3) (2) (10)
Question 1: Any increases in aid should be related to performance. It does no good to give more money  to schools to do the same things if they haven’t been successful. Increases should relate to increases in student progress, attendance, and graduation rates.

Question 2: One of the problems with the school aid formulae over the years is that they are a mess of special interest packages to buy support of various constituencies. Once you start with this type of thing then other groups come in with their “unique needs” such as geographic isolation and you end up with the kind of formula we have today. If you are to have special treatment of certain factors, population density, percent of students in poverty, etc, those things should be based objective research, not just on political clout.

Malcolm McLean (8) (9) (8)

This was an impressive look at school funding.  She touched most bases and seeks to eliminate some problems, such as too much reliance on property taxes and differential between high school and elementary school funding.  It will be hard, of course, to do all this soon with the economy reeling, but some steps forward should be taken, and no priority should be higher than education.



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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