What does that mean? A primer on everyday education lingo

As the legislative session moves forward, provisions are discussed that have their own language. It is helpful to have an idea what some of these provisions mean.

PDF 2011 Education bill language primer

Repeal the 2% Set-aside
Current law requires that 2% of the money school districts receive from the state, through the per pupil funding formula, be set aside and used for staff development. Waiver allowance: Current law allows a local district to waive this requirement with a majority vote of the local school board members and the teacher’s union. (More)

Repeal January 15 deadline
If a local school board and teachers union are unable to settle their contract for the next two-year period by January 15, a $25 per pupil penalty is assessed and the school district must pay that fine to the state. (More)

Repeal the Safe Schools Levy Maintenance of Effort (MOE)
Current law requires a district to certify that they have met “maintenance of effort” for licensed pupil support staff (e.g., counselors, social workers, nurses). This basically means that a district cannot spend less this year than it did last year on support staff. (More

Delink categorical funds – compensatory, sparsity and transportation sparsity
Categorical aids are funds for which districts qualify based on specific student or district needs: Compensatory funds go to districts with high poverty; sparsity funds go to districts that have a low density of student population. Current law links these categorical funds to the per pupil formula so if the formula increases, the categorical fund increases. Delinking these funds freezes them at current rates.

Flat-funding versus base funding—What’s the difference?

  • K-12 education received $13.8 billion in the 2010-11 biennium.  Current law is used to calculate the budget for the upcoming biennium and this is the base funding.  The K-12 education base funding for 2012-13 grew to $14.2 billion due to:
    —Funding is per pupil and the state projects 14,000 new students.
    —The state is projecting growth in the number of children who live in poverty.  Therefore, the extra compensatory funding to provide educational services for poor children will increase.  (The Senate freezes compensatory funding so per pupil funding will go down.  The House delinks compensatory funding so per pupil funding will remain flat.)
    —Current law includes a 4.6% growth factor in special education to offset the projected 8% annual increases in special education costs.
  • Many legislators view flat-funding as maintaining the previous biennium funding level and see base funding as a funding increase.  Yet flat-funding would be a net per pupil reduction as the costs for the additional students must be taken from the existing per pupil funding.  (SEE, 4/15/2011)

GRAD Graduation Requirements
Minnesota moved from the BST (Basic Skills Test), an 8th grade equivalency test required for high school graduation, to the GRAD (Graduation Required Assessments for Diploma), a much higher standard for graduation, without much discussion about the idea of requiring a high stakes tests for graduation. Passage of the GRAD has been equated to attaining a score of 23 on the ACT. Important note: Minnesota is consistently one of the top two states in the nation on average ACT score, with an overall average score of 21. Also an issue is that the students required to pass this test have not had the advantage of being taught the standards throughout their career necessary to attain that passage. Current law requires students to take the GRAD but allows remediation if they fail. (More)

Freeze compensatory revenue at 2011 level 
Compensatory funds are a categorical revenue that districts with high numbers of children in poverty receive. This provision freezes those dollars at 2011 levels. 

Extend $51 per year allowable transfer from a district’s operating capital to general fund for two years
There was a provision in the 2009 Omnibus Bill that allowed school districts, if it had funds available, to transfer $51 from capital funds to operating funds. This legislative permission was allowed for two years. This provision allows these transfers for the next two years.

Establish early graduation scholarship program
Provides for up to $7500 for a high school student who graduates early. Dollars can be used for any post secondary school. In the case of a student joining the military these dollars are awarded in cash. Current law has these dollars redirected into early childhood.

Establish Literacy Incentive Aid
Beginning in 2013 Literacy Aid is comprised of a district’s proficiency aid and growth aid.

Proficiency Aid for each school is equal to the product of the school’s proficiency allowance times the number of pupils at the school on October 1 of the previous year. A school’s proficiency allowance is equal to the percent of students in each building that meet or exceed proficiency on the reading portion of the 3rd grade MCA II, averaged across the previous three test administrations, multiplied by $150.

Growth Aid for each school is equal to the product of the school’s growth allowance times the number of pupils enrolled on October 1 of the previous year. A school’s growth allowance is equal to the percent of students in the fourth grade at that school making medium or high growth in the reading MCA averaged across the previous three test administrations multiplied by $150.

For fiscal year 2012 only, districts that received integration aid in 2011 are permitted to levy up to 30% of district’s literacy transition revenue.

Quality Economic Offer
Prevents teachers from striking or pursuing interest arbitration on total compensation if the school board offers a contract that includes a percentage increase at least equal to the district’s biennial percentage increase in basic revenue granted to them from the state. Further, contract agreement must be reached by September 1.

Small schools categorical for charter schools and district schools
Creates a new component to general education revenue. Districts and charter schools under 1,000 pupils qualify for additional revenue.

School grading system A-F
An “A to F” grading system for schools based on student performance on statewide reading and math tests.

Innovation revenue
Sets innovation aid and levy equal to each district’s integration revenue for 2011 except for Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. Lowers Minneapolis and St. Paul’s innovation revenue and has it provided entirely in local levy to the amount equal to their integration levy for fiscal year 2011, a cut of about 30%. Lowers Duluth’s integration revenue to $129 per pupil.