Minnesota statutes include hundreds of rules and regulations that govern K-12 education, one of the largest areas of state spending. Close oversight can be expected to accompany the nearly $12 billion the state spends on schools in a two-year period.

Still, it is sensible to review some of those requirements periodically to make sure they are in step with current needs. Especially during challenging economic times, money, staff time and other resources must be used as efficiently as possible. So it is wise to reexamine, modify and -- in some cases -- repeal questionable rules.

A House bill, for example, suggests repealing a law that created a regional mentoring program in which exemplary schools could work with struggling ones. But state money was eliminated, leaving an unfunded mandate.

And a recently passed Senate education committee plan would pull back, for two years, a law that requires districts to spend 2 percent of their state funding on staff development. That spending provision has come and gone over the years as the state's fortunes rose and fell. And while training and development are important, in tight budget times districts need more flexibility with state dollars. If, in the short term, training has to wait to keep more teachers in classrooms, school leaders should be able to make that happen.

Senate and House proposals would also rightly give school boards more discretion in spending locally levied school-safety dollars. Current law directs districts to spend a consistent amount of such money from year to year on licensed school counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists and alcohol and chemical dependency counselors.

Known as "maintenance of effort'' provisions, such requirements can lock schools, as well as cities and counties, into spending patterns that remain the same regardless of how student and staffing needs change. The proposed modification calls for maintaining the same number of positions instead of dollars. That allows more flexibility on what schools can spend in those departments.

Another state requirement that merits a spot on the repeal list prohibits Minnesota schools from starting classes before Labor Day. Elected school boards and regional groups of boards, along with their communities, should be able to set school calendars based on what's best for their students' education -- not according to vacation, resort or other recreational issues dictated by the state.

Other proposed mandate-relief ideas trim the number of reports that districts must submit to the state. Reducing reporting requirements would in turn give back to districts more staff time to devote to other education needs.

Not all revisited school regulations should be retired. Most were adopted for sound reasons and many ensure that school districts perform important tasks. Still, the Legislature should do what it can this session to eliminate burdensome, unneeded mandates that do more to build bureaucracy than educate students.