Normally Monday's bring a flurry of legislative news and activity.
Today is very different.
The Legislature has adjourned until April 14. However, Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Gazelka continue to work behind the scenes on business critical to Minnesotans. The Government Relations team is monitoring the House and Senate for any schedule changes. We have heard rumblings of a meeting on Thursday, but for now the official word is nothing is scheduled.
The Legislature is working on a bill that will help schools, that we now refer to as mission critical. The major components of the bill are:
* Compensating hourly staff during any school closures related to the current public health crisis
* Allowing student teachers to achieve licensure even if their experience falls short of the required number of days
* Providing probationary teachers credit to advancing towards continuing contract or tenure
* Allowing students to move on to the next grade, seniors to graduate
* Clarifying days students miss from school related to the COVID-19 do not trigger truancy
* Directing the Commissioner of Education to waive the requirement for MCA testing
* Capturing the forecasted special education transportation cost and gives MDE the authority to allocate to districts, in a manner to be determined.
* Allowing the Commissioner of Education to adjust the state portion for meals served to the full extent of the monies in the February forecast.
Two critical school district program areas are not included in the proposed legislation. Community Education and Nutrition have been asked to continue services, and rightfully so, but these programs are facing fiscal challenges through the distance learning period and pending legislative requirements.
We are asking for your help in communicating to legislators the value of these programs and the fiscal impact of the lost revenue, which may result in the depletion of fund balances to our schools if these issues are not addressed.
Please reach out to your legislators with the attached example letter and let them know the impact of school closures, as it relates to community education and nutrition.
Last Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education DeVos announced states will be able to bypass standardized testing with a simple waiver. Governor Walz indicated in a press conference last Friday that Commissioner Ricker will be pursuing a waiver.
We will continue to keep you updated through Twitter and Special Editions of The Weekly Advocate. You can also learn more about the proposed legislation by listening to our Legislative Update Webinar .
March 16 - House and Senate Bill Introductions
Education Bill Introductions
Upcoming Meetings and Events
Please watch Twitter for updates.