The Weekly Advocate

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In This Issue
Quick Links
Legislative Action
News on MSBA's Platform Issues

MSBA 2017 Platform

Key Platform Provisions are:
  • Investing in All of our Students
  • Ensure Every Student has a Qualified and Committed Teacher
  • Support the Work of Locally Elected School Boards
  • Equity And Student Achievement
  • 21st Century Facilities
Indicates a MSBA Initiative

Join us on Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter and help us spread the word.

My Legislators

Runs, Resources and Side-by-Sides
Monday Legislative Briefing
April 24, 2017 - Week 17
We Need A Larger Target
  Watch and listen to why it is critical and see examples of the impact of 2 percent on the basic education funding formula, TRA expenses, and the special education cross-subsidy.  
A Legislative Alert from the GR Team
 We Need You to Ask for a Larger Target
$600 million Target Needed to Begin to Balance Education Budgets and Serve Students

It is crunch time with only four weeks left in the legislative session. The work at the Capitol during the next few weeks will determine Minnesota school districts' operating budgets for the next two years. 

Conference committees have started meeting and the education conferees will be negotiating and merging education bills over the next two weeks.
However, the REAL negotiations can't begin until Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt and Governor Mark Dayton agree to new spending targets for all areas of the state government - which will mean a revised spending target for education.

We need an education spending target of at least $600 million to be able to provide three key things: (1) at least a 2 percent increase to the basic education formula, (2) to reduce the special education cross-subsidy, and (3) to provide adequate resources to address our teacher shortage.

MSBA is sending that message loud and clear to  Governor Dayton and the Legislature. We need you to send that message to your legislators as well.
Without a substantially larger education spending target, districts will be underfunded - despite a healthy $1.6 billion dollar state surplus.

As school boards, you are in the budgeting process right now. Your legislators need to know what you are cutting despite a 2 percent increase to the general formula.

If elected officials heard from all Minnesota school board members and superintendents, that would be more than 2,000 voices advocating on behalf of public schools and students. That would create real change. Your voice is respected and needed.

Please reach out to other school board members and encourage them to get involved and take action today. It won't be long before we will be out of days to influence the outcome of this legislative session.

Please contact Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, Governor Mark Dayton and your local representatives.  Urge them to increase the education target to $600 million.

Conference Committees
Conference Committee members were announced last Tuesday. It is possible conference committees could receive new targets by the end of this week.
  • E-12 Conference Committee:
House: Loon (Chair), Erickson, Bennett, Kresha and M. Murphy
Senate: Nelson (Chair), Pratt, Weber, Eichorn and Wiger
  • Teacher Licensure Committee
House: Erickson (Chair), Bennett, Mariani
Senate: Pratt (Chair), Housley, Kent
  • Tax Conference Committee
House: Davids (Chair), Drazkowski, McDonald, Hertaus and Marquart
Senate: Chamberlain (Chair), Dahms, Miller, Senjem and Rest 
  • A provision in the Omnibus Election bill (S.F. 514) creates a significant local financial impact on school districts by repealing their ability to consolidate polling places for special elections. To see how this could impact your school district, we have attached a letter with some examples. A group of education organizations, including MSBA, sent the letter to the Senate Finance Committee members urging them to allow school districts to continue to consolidate polling places for special elections. 
  • Crumb rubber is back. In the Senate Health and Human Services Omnibus bill (S.F. 800), an immediate three-year moratorium is placed on building playground or athletic fields containing crumb rubber. MSBA and the League of Minnesota Cities wrote a joint letter expressing opposition to the moratorium.
Former Anoka-Hennepin Superintendent Counters Editorial Board 
Dennis Carlson, a former superintendent from Anoka-Hennepin took the Star Tribune's editorial board to task on their proposed education state budget, largely  because they failed to acknowledge inflation over the past years.

We think the message is right on point and wanted to share it with you. Please share it with others!

The Easter Sunday editorial ("How to handle a $1.65B surplus") was flawed. The $1.65 billion "surplus" is only a surplus if you ignore inflation for pre-K-12 public education. If you include inflation in your distribution plan, you would have only $650 million to spread around and I suspect you would spend it differently.The vast majority of public school money is spent on teachers' salaries and benefits. 
Across the state those budgets are negotiated by union representatives that have developed salary schedules that include annual steps for experience and lane changes for advancing their degrees in education. Those step-and-lane increases generally run between 2 and 2.5 percent each year for most school districts even before any new contracts are negotiated. That means annual inflationary costs for school districts run between 2 and 3 percent (or about $ 1 billion) and should be accounted for in any thoughtful budget planning.Without an inflationary increase in funding, all school districts will again be making significant cuts. Those cuts will be amplified considerably if enrollment is declining. The Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts will be hit particularly hard in the budget distribution plan the Star Tribune Editorial Board is recommending. At a time when there is a rising shortage of teachers, an  
unacceptable achievement gap and political leadership that will advance vouchers in lieu of funding, this plan seems poorly conceived. Additional conversations with those in the field of education are encouraged.

Dennis Carlson, Blaine 


House Committee Meetings and Floor Sessions 
  • Conference committees have met twice, so far to go through the E-12 Education Finance Omnibus bill (H.F. 890) and side-by-sides. They will meet again next week to adopt
    Photo by Paul Battaglia.
    "same and similars" from the bills; however the real work can't begin until revised targets are released.  

Senate Committee Meetings and Floor Sessions 
  • The teacher licensure reform bill (S.F. 4) passed the full Senate last Thursday on a 44-21 vote. Ten DFL Senators voted for the reform - Clausen, Hoffman, Franzen, Frentz, Kent, Klein, Laine, Little, Wiger and Wicklund. The Senate had originally included the licensing proposal in the E-12 omnibus bill; the House teacher licensure bill remains separate. A separate conference committee will now take up both bills and begin negotiations on same and similars.
The Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement has a full slate of meetings scheduled the first week in May.   
ESSA Update
The Minnesota Department of Education has worked with hundreds of stakeholders in more than 300 meetings over the last year to shape Minnesota's ESSA plan. Recently, the department provided an update. Five indicators will be used for accountability:
  1. Academic Achievement: all schools
  2. Academic Progress: elementary and middle schools
  3. Graduation Rate: high schools
  4. Progress Toward English Language Proficiency: all schools
  5. School Quality/Student Success: all schools Starting in 2018, chronic absenteeism will be used to identifying schools. In 2019/20, chronic absenteeism will again be used to identify schools. Well-rounded education and career and college readiness data will be separately reported as well. Then in 2021, both chronic absenteeism and career and college readiness data will be used to identify schools.
Beginning in May and through June, the department will "put pen to paper" in solidifying the plan for presentation to the U.S. Department of Education in September. 

Our blog, The Advocate, has a recap of the meeting. 

Federal Effort
Members of Congress return to Capitol Hill this week with the priority of passing an appropriations bill to fund education investments and other federal programs for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017.  Congress has until this Friday to pass legislation to ensure federal investments in education continue uninterrupted. This is the time to contact your members of Congress and urge them to pass an appropriations bill that prioritizes investments for education programs that support our nation's 50 million public school students. 

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to the Committee on Appropriations regarding Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations for Fiscal Years 2017-2018.
Looking ForwardFollow us on Twitter
  • Join us in a "Tweet-a-Thon" over the next week. We will be tweeting why at least a 2 percent increase or $600 million target is necessary.
Please watch our Twitter feed and retweet. Or tweet your own reasons how this will impact your district. Some examples are:  
"Schools need at least a 2 percent increase on formula because ..." 
"Without at least a 2 percent increase, we will cut ..."

Share photos of students, board sessions, negative numbers in your budgets, etc. in your tweets.

  • Next week teacher licensure will be heating up. It is always important to share real life scenarios with legislators. Please tell us what types of obstacles or barriers you are running into when hiring teachers. We are especially interested in situations involving Career and Technical (CTE) programs. What CTE programs do you have where you need flexibility to hire?

Bills of Interest & Impact
 H. F. 2609, A bill requiring the Minnesota State High School League to exempt foreign exchange students from the transfer ban on varsity competition.

A bill modifying certain gifted and talented provisions; improving transitional outcomes.

S.F. No. 2341:
A bill increasing student inclusion and engagement; making nonexclusionary policies and practices a central focus of pupil discipline.
  As session progresses, we will provide updates on significant bills that have been heard. 

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