Safe schools is a cornerstone of this session. The House, Senate and Governor Dayton have pledged to make an impact in keeping students and staff safe at school. MSBA has created a side-by-side comparison of the provisions.
The House Education Finance Committee marked up its omnibus bill last Tuesday afternoon. A sum of $21.6 million will go directly to school safety and mental health grants next year. In fiscal year 2020-2021, it would jump to $51 million.
- There was a failed amendment offered to extend the Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) implementation until 2019.
- An amendment to include instruction on "consent" was not adopted.
- The "withdrawal agreement" discipline provision is no longer in the bill.
- An amendment to establish a regional equity approach to special education funding is now part of the Education Finance omnibus bill. It would break the state into two regions, metro and rural, then provide equity aid to school districts where the cross-subsidy is greater than the regional average. The cost to the state is approximately $20 million. Later in the day, Chair Loon offered an oral amendment to delay the implementation of the regional equity cross-subsidy aid in fiscal year 2022-2023.
- The often contentious academic star-rating system was amended to offer the commissioner of education more flexibility in formulating a summative academic rating system. Chair Loon said, "What we're proposing is that we allow the commissioner more latitude to develop this rather than crafting our own." Implementation would be September 2020.
The Senate marked up its Education Finance omnibus bill last week. Chair Nelson reminded the committee this year is a supplemental budget year and there was
provided to work with.
- A contentious academic balance policy provision had much discussion Wednesday and by Thursday had been modified. The more prescriptive language is out, with Chair Nelson saying "the discussion was enlightening and that's what the process does, enlighten legislators." However, it is not completely out. It still requires a school board to adopt a written policy that prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of political, ideological, or religious beliefs. It states a student must not be required to publicly identify their personal belief, views and values for the purpose of academic credit, classroom or extracurricular participation. The policy must have reporting procedures and disciplinary actions for violations. The policy would take affect July 1, 2018.
Senate Informational Hearing Only
- Background checks would be required for teachers who are renewing licenses and new background checks on all employees every three years.
- Telecommunications aid got a bit of a boost with $880,000 over the next three years; however, an amendment was offered to have libraries retain any unused funds leaving the senate and governor's proposals without funds.
A bill relating to school start times would prevent secondary schools from starting before 8:30 a.m. and buses would not allowed be allowed to pick up elementary students before 7:00 a.m.
School board members Patsy Green (Robbinsdale Area Schools) and Kevin Donovan (Mahtomedi Public Schools) testified, raising concerns with the bill. "Local control is important to make decisions closest to community issues," said Green.