Over the weekend, the Omnibus bill, a 101-page document, was released and it was a bit reminiscent of last year's vetoed bill. Much of what we have been highlighting over the past few weeks was included in the bill, including 10 new mandates.
MSBA has testified on many of these provisions during the first weeks of session. The testimony provided was in support and opposition of bills and remarks on a number of requirements MSBA believes should remain under the jurisdiction of locally elected school boards or at the very least, be fully funded.
MSBA is very proud to share that the six bills seeking to reduce special education paperwork are included in the chair's Omnibus bill. It has been a journey. New Ulm submitted ideas in the interim. MSBA had bills drafted, acquired authors, and provided testimony during committee hearings and to the Omnibus bill. MSBA thanks everyone who helped get the bills to this point through conversations, emails and other support. MSBA will continue to advocate for the bills in the Senate and hope the Senate E-12 Finance and Policy Omnibus bill also includes the bills. Please take a moment to email or call
Sen. Carla Nelson
and encourage her to include the six provisions in the bill -- it is time to make movement in this area.
Other provisions MSBA are encouraged to see:
* Flexibility with pre-Labor Day start date for the next two school years.
* Initiatives to increase the teachers of color in Minnesota; however, we believe some items have costs to implement statewide.
* Expansion of the duties of the dyslexia specialist to better meet the needs of dyslexia students.
* Affirmation of the ability to negotiate teacher retention and protection from unrequested leave of absence (ULA).
* We oppose ECFE and ABE teachers subject to continuing contract.
MSBA has previously provided public testimony on the provisions that we oppose in this bill:
* Any changes to the tiered licensure system before school boards have had the opportunity to work with the new system long enough to bring real data as to the effectiveness of the changes. MSBA has concerns that any changes made to a system that has been in place less than five months would be premature.
* We understand the difficulty the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) is experiencing in getting members to fulfill all of the board's responsibilities. We would submit if the board is increased, one or more school board members should be included, as opposed to all teachers.
* We oppose the reduction of electives -- local school boards are designing high schools to prepare all students for career/college pathways and need the flexibility, at the local level, to continue that work. New course requirements in government and personal finance will cost school districts money. MSBA believe there will be a financial impact and suggests a local fiscal note to help determine the statewide cost.
* Comprehensive sex education should remain a locally determined program and curriculum.
A number of the provisions in the omnibus bill would be considered new or additional requirements:
* Dyslexia screening required -- cost associated with the annual screening.
* Comprehensive sexual health education program and curriculum required.
* Lead in water and radon testing, notification, and remediation required.
* Non-exclusionary disciplinary policies
* Compulsory attendance from age 7 to age 6. One may predict more students would be attending school and districts would be responsible for .4 of the funding.
* New required high school courses in government and personal finance.
* New report listing the number of teachers in a building who hold a Tier 1-4 license.
* A teacher with a Tier 1 or Tier 2 license cannot have the same student in their classroom a second year.
* A school district must adopt and post a policy for student journalism.