CHICAGO - Facing decisions on how to deal with escalating operating costs and delayed state aid without eroding educational services, Minnesota's school districts have just one more month to issue debt without voter approval to address one of their growing fiscal burdens - other post-employment benefits for retirees' health care.

The state last year approved legislation allowing local governments and school districts to establish irrevocable trusts and issue taxable bonds to fund their OPEB liabilities. A rush of districts acting to take advantage of the change prompted lawmakers to rein in their issuance with legislation this past spring that requires school districts after Oct. 1 to seek voter approval for OPEB bonds.

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