The MSBA Weekly Advocate
Legislative news school boards need to know
2020 Legislative Summary

 Dear School Board Members and Superintendents,

The 2020 MSBA Legislative Summary is your guide to issues impacting E-12 education during the regular legislative session, in the second year of the biennium of the 91st Minnesota Legislature. This year we have also included a federal COVID response recap. Never before has the federal government played such a substantial role in education funding.

In the first five weeks of session, the Government Relations team began its work, following our legislative agenda, with a focus on local control and eliminating or stopping mandates. In the area of finance, we prioritized a request for an additional one percent on the per pupil formula, safe schools funds and keeping the special education cross-subsidy relatively flat. The total expenditures for these requests were about $165 million. When we received the February forecast, a surplus of approximately $1.5 billion, we truly believed a request of 12 percent of the surplus was very reasonable.

Then the world changed. In the midst of a global pandemic, Minnesota’s divided legislature passed several, negotiated COVID relief bills. In the end, only one bill made it across the finish line for K-12; HF 4415, the education finance COVID bill. Some of the major highlights include:

•Expands eligibility in the early middle college program,
•Repeals compensatory revenue set aside,
•Student absences don’t bring a student under the definition of truant,
•Probationary teacher relief for less than 120 days of instruction, and
•For FY 21, districts may apply for modified cash flow payments.

The release of this publication comes at a time when school districts’ budgets are tight and next steps are unclear. We know school boards can provide input and help prioritize issues for the 2021 Legislature. MSBA will continue to advocate on your behalf. We can’t do this alone. As MSBA’s Government Relations team prepares for summer and fall events, we look forward to hearing great ideas from members to help our public schools and the students we serve.

This year in particular, as we all re-evaluate the delivery of public education and the experience of distance learning, it may be the springboard for Delegate Assembly resolutions and legislative platforms.

This session did not end the way any of us could have predicted. During these unprecedented times it is even more important that we continue to communicate and work together to ensure we come out of this stronger and better. On behalf of our 850,000 public school students, thank you for your leadership.