Update on Bills, Committees and Advocacy Efforts
Committee and Bill Updates
The committees have completed their work and passed their omnibus bills which now head to the House and Senate floors. We believe the House education omnibus bill will be heard this Wednesday. Please watch Twitter for more information and of course join us for the Friday Chat Room this week for the latest information.

School Board Members Please Act!
IDEA and school meals
In last Friday's Chat Room we shared some discussions and advocacy opportunities in Congress for IDEA and meal waivers. Here are links to the two template letters you can send to your members of Congress.

Student data privacy requirements for technology providers and schools
In another advocacy effort, legislation is advancing this session proposing new student data privacy requirements for technology providers and schools utilizing school-issued technological devices.

We support the provisions to hold technology vendors accountable to high standards for ensuring privacy and data security. We are concerned about the provisions in the bill that impact how school districts use technology in our schools and classrooms. Specifically, one provision of greatest concern is the opt-out section.

Message template to send to senators
I am writing to express my concern about legislation that is advancing in the House and Senate - the Student Data Privacy Act. These provisions are included in HF1404, the Omnibus Data Practices bill, and SF2307, a bill that has advanced separately in the Senate. These bills propose new student privacy requirements for technology providers and for schools utilizing school-issued technological devices.

School district staff work every day to secure the privacy and data of our students, staff, and families. Although I support the provisions holding technology vendors accountable to high standards for ensuring privacy and data security, some provisions in these bills will impact how we use technology in our schools and classrooms.

Our primary concern is that the language allows parents to opt-out of instructional platforms which could limit opportunities for students. Many districts deliver instruction via a technology device, rather than traditional textbooks, so allowing an opt-out will require teachers to develop and deliver alternative lesson plans and content. This will result in additional staff time and take away from needed instructional time with students.

As stated earlier, we support the provisions holding technology vendors accountable. However, we ask that our concerns be addressed should the bill advance.

Please reach out to me if you would like to discuss this further and thank you for your work.
Respectfully,

Special education cross-subsidy
The MSBA Government Relations team is asking you to email legislators. You can choose to email all of those listed below, or just leadership or the education chairs. If you have the time, it would be great for you to email the list. You may copy and paste or use the link.

Dear (Senator or Representative insert name),
My name is (insert name), a school board member from the (insert your school district).
On behalf of our (insert number) students, I want to thank you for your public service and for your continued support of our students. As you have heard often, Minnesota has a $9.25 billion surplus. Given this historic surplus, I am writing to ask you to support full funding for the special education cross-subsidy. Insufficient special education funding has created a statewide shortfall of approximately $750 million. This shortfall, if fully funded, represents 8.1 percent of the total surplus.

For many years, the state and federal government have “mandated” programming and services for students with special needs (which is good) but have grossly underfunded these mandates (which is bad), forcing districts to use “regular” education funds to pay for the mandated special education programs. These unfunded mandates have impacted the educational programs in districts like ours across the state unfairly.

Every school district in Minnesota has a special education cross-subsidy. Each school district must pull money from their general fund, to make up for the amount not funded. We know if our district was fully funded, we would be able to provide (substitute your district’s needs, such as more programming for students, much needed counselors, social workers, or other staff, etc.)

Given this historic surplus, there is no better time for you as a lawmaker to fully fund your obligations.  

Thank you in advance for your support of our students and our schools.

Respectfully,


Send the letter to:
(Your state representative) and (Your state senator)

Authors of Special Education Bills
Sen. Dziedzic
Rep. Wolgamott

Education Committee Chairs
Senate Education Chair
House Education Chair

Leadership
House Speaker Melissa Hortman
Senate Majority Leader


Another key thing to do this week is submit a letter to the editor of your city/town's newspaper. We have made it very easy by creating a template letter for you to use - simply add your district's name and the amount of your cross-subsidy, which can be found in the attached MDE Cross-Subsidy report. Please use the number in column F.

Every day we tweet a district's special education cross-subsidy. Please "Like" and "Retweet.

Please don't forget to pass the Congressional IDEA Full Funding Act resolution at your board table. The Government Relations team met with members of Congress and they mentioned their offices are receiving the resolutions. Once you have passed it, please send a copy to each of your members of Congress and to klewis@mnmsba.org.