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Removing public notices from newspapers for schools would harm the public

April 19 – A major discussion is taking place in the state legislature in response to the recent announcement that eight community newspapers will close at the end of the month.

Under a proposal in the Senate Education Policy bill (SF 3567), school districts would no longer be required to publish their reports in newspapers and instead move them to their own websites.

We believe the proposal, which is supported by the Minnesota School Boards Association, is a knee-jerk reaction made too quickly after the announcement about the southwest metro newspapers and does not take into account possible solutions.

While it is possible that some of these newspapers can still be purchased, there is also a law already in place that states that if you do not have a legal newspaper in your country, these notices can be placed in a neighboring newspaper. district. These newspapers also offer the option to print notices in the Star Tribune.

We believe that any time you start messing around with government public notices and transparency, it starts the ball rolling, and we have no doubt that this can trickle down to other local government public notices as well.

Public notices are essential not only to help residents make informed decisions, but also to hold local governments accountable for decisions made.

Government agencies are not allowed to post their own notices on their websites for the sake of transparency, and it is especially important to point out that the reach of these sites is often significantly smaller than that of newspapers.

In addition to the print edition, the Tribune and all newspapers that print public notices publish them on their websites before the paywall, so anyone interested in reviewing the notices can do so for free. People do not have to buy a newspaper or have a subscription to read it. And they’re archived there forever, so if someone has to go back and look through multiple communications, he or she can find them.

The notices are also uploaded to mnpublicnotice.com, where the public can search for all public notices across the state.

We urge Senate Conference Committee members to work with the Minnesota Newspapers Association, which represents the state’s newspapers, on a possible resolution to this situation.

The Minnesota School Boards Association and MNA worked together in 2022 to modernize the state’s public notice law, and we believe a resolution can be reached in this case as well.

The House version of the bill, with the help of Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, came up with a possible solution that the newspaper association could support that would provide a limited, time-limited exception to newspaper publishing requirements for school district attorneys to address the metro situation.

We ask lawmakers to keep in mind the importance of transparency to the public.

Don’t leave residents across the state in the dark about this decision.