December 2, 2005 Special Update

December 2, 2005 Special Update

Myers Announces School Funding Study Results

In 2003, Governor Pawlenty charged the Education Finance Reform Task Force with determining what it would cost to educate a child in the state of Minnesota. Their report in 2004 had several significant findings, but stopped short of coming up with a dollar figure. At that time, an analysis of the task force’s report was prepared by Parents United.

During the fall of 2005, after a failed attempt to have the study completed through legislated action, Schools for Equity in Education, the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, and the Minnesota Rural Education Association commissioned John Myers to complete the study. John Myers, Vice-President of Augenblick, Palich and Associates, Inc., a national expert in funding studies, released his results today.

Using the Governor’s task force study data, and praising its work, John Myers presented the results for the first phase of the study, which indicates that in order for 100% of the students in Minnesota to attain proficiency in the standards mandated by law, schools would need $953 million more annually than they are presently receiving. However, the greater significance of the study is that it calls for a fundamental change in the way schools are funded. The study proposes that the funding formula be rationally linked to student learning rather than based simply on the availability of state funds; in other words, the funding formula would be standards-based. This study is the beginning of a conversation needed in this state. This public debate needs to be held so that good public policy will follow.

The next phase in the study will be using other nationally recognized methodologies to look more deeply into these numbers. That information is expected to be available in the spring. I cannot stress enough that this data is a part of a larger picture that we as parents need to understand as the debate on school funding continues.

Determining the Cost of Education in Minnesota: Continuing the Work of the Governor’s Education Funding Reform Task Force – Prepared by John Myers of Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA).

 

 Revenue Forecast

On Wednesday, November 30, the revenue forecast for the state was released. By now, you have had time to become totally confused by the reporting of this information. The simple truth is that the state is doing a little bit better this biennium than last. If you factor inflation in both the expenditure and the revenue side it is pretty much a wash. We are hearing conflicting reports about how the dollars are to be used for schools.

By law, if a surplus is available it is to be used to pay schools back. What that means is when the state doesn’t have the dollars necessary to meet its payments to schools they pay the schools late—in the next year. So schools get a percentage of what the state pays them in one year and waits for the remainder to come in the next year. This is why school districts without a fund balance find themselves in need of short-term borrowing.

When they say they will be using the surplus to pay back schools–DON’T THINK THAT MEANS YOUR SCHOOL WILL RECEIVE MORE MONEY–they will simply receive the money they were due on time. It is much like if a boss were to ask you to wait a few months for your paycheck. No one would ever think of calling that late paycheck a “bonus”–but be careful of the rhetoric involving these dollars–strange things can happen with spin doctors.

Specific to St. Paul parents

We have been asked to send the following link out to St. Paul parents on our Elist. The link tells you about meetings you may wish to be involved in. The selection process is beginning for a new superintendent and they would like you to be involved. There’s also a survey about qualities that individuals want in a superintendent. Take time to be involved on the front end of this process!