What is happening at the Capitol
Notable policy provisions include:
- Significant changes to the new tiered teacher licensing system know as PELSB. Tier 1 and Tier 2 teacher licenses are used for hard-to-fill positions, such as career and technical education (automotive, welding, construction, etc.), special education, and other specialized courses. In many cases, these are areas where Minnesota colleges or universities do not have teacher preparation programs available or do not graduate nearly enough teacher candidates to meet the significant need. (Read more about the limitations proposed and other changes to PELSB).
- Requires screening of all children in K-2 and children struggling with reading in grades 3 and beyond for dyslexia.
- Allows pre-Labor Day starts, school can begin on August 31 for the 2020-21 school year and on August 30 for the 2021-22 school year.
- Requires high school students to take a personal finance class for ½ credit and to take the already required government and civics course in 11th or 12th grade (most currently take the course in 9th grade.)
- Provides special education paperwork reduction measures.
- Allows special education students to participate in Alternative Delivery of Specialized Services program (ADSS), with certain restrictions.
- Bans districts from denying a school lunch to students and prohibits stigmatizing or prohibiting students access to activities when attempting to collect unpaid lunch debt from parents.
- Requires testing for Radon every five years in school buildings where students are present
The Senate E-12 Finance and Policy committee with release one bill by the April 12 finance deadline.
The snow days bills are progressing. The Senate's bill - SF1743 - forgives all snow days this school year and the House bill - HF1982 - forgives three days. The Senate passed their bill on the floor last week. The House is voting on their version on Monday, March 18. Either the Senate will have to accept the House's version, or it will go to conference committee.
MinnPost has a great article on equalization (and not just because they quoted me). Both the Chairs of the Senate tax committee and the Senate education committee talk about the need for making the taxpayer cost for school levies affordable in low-property wealth districts. I've been sensing more momentum this session than in the past. Keep talking to your local legislators.
MinnPost article / Comparison of the equalization bills under consideration.
What are some options to provide stable, on-going funding?
When talking with legislators, most agree that funding the basic formula is critical for schools to maintain quality programming and reduce the need for funding cuts. However, funding the basic formula is expensive. The current $ 1 billion state surplus could support basic formula increases of 3% next year and 2% the following year, but then the money runs out. The DFL governor proposes raising taxes, lots of taxes, by increasing the gas tax, extending the health access fee, and multiple other tax increases. The Republicans in the House and Senate believe reclaiming revenue from fraud and inefficiencies in state government could fund education, often referencing a Fox 9 News story last year that reported fraud in the Minnesota childcare assistance exceeds $100 million annually. However, the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released a report of their investigation into childcare assistance fraud. The OLA found no evidence of the $100 million claim but said the fraud could be more than the $6 million identified by the Department of Human Services. Read more. Still no easy path to find a revenue stream to fund our schools.