July 20, 2005 – Parents United End of Session Wrap-up

July 20, 2005 – Parents United End of Session Wrap-up


Parents United End of Session Wrap-up 2005 Special Session


Congratulations—you did an incredible job! Everywhere I went this session, people were talking about the parent presence throughout the session.   It was unprecedented and truthfully, it made the difference! It is not often that you have the opportunity to turn the tide and this time you did it. Thank you.  It is important that each of us thank those who listened.  Send an email, drop a note, place a call to those you have been contacting throughout the session and thank them.


However, our work is not yet finished!


Early in the session, it was determined that in order to keep pace with inflation, and make up for the lack of funding over the last decade the per pupil formula needed to increase by 5% each year in the next biennium.   This 5%/5% was not a number pulled from the sky, nor was it a bargaining chip.  However, this compromise bill provides 4%/4% for our schools. If anything this makes the case that the School Funding Study needs to be completed and the completion of the Governors’ Task force was not funded.


Parents United will be working with other interested groups to see that that Study is completed.  It is critical that we know what it costs to adequately educate our children in the state of Minnesota.



An Invitation


During the next months, it is my intention to travel the state talking with parents about this legislative session, the status of the School Funding Study in Minnesota, how that correlates with what is happening on the national level and what we can expect from its completion. 


Please contact me and set a time to talk.  Please don’t feel that you need to pull together a huge group, as we have learned—the power of a few committed individuals who have information is astounding.



E-12 Education Omnibus Bill Summary:


The Omnibus Education Bill provides an additional $800 million in funding for E-12 education. This is one of the largest education funding increases in K-12 education funding in the past 15 years. However, early childhood education did not fare well.


From the beginning the Senate did not want to use property taxes and shifts to fund our schools. The final bill includes $139 million in property tax increases and $95 million in “shifts”. Property taxes can lead to greater disparities between districts and shifts are simply accounting tactics.   


If you want to know what all of this really means for your local school—I would suggest you call your superintendent or school board—they should know sometime in the next few weeks how the numbers really shake out for your local school.  But for those of you brave enough to try it, there’s a link to see your district’s numbers.



Bill Highlights:


General Education Formula: The bill provides 4%/4% on the per pupil formula. The education formula in FY06 will increase by $182 per student to $4,783, and another $191 per student to $4,974 in FY07.  Pupil weights remain the same.


Special Education: $23 million in special education funding. In order for the state to continue receiving federal special education dollars, they needed to show a maintenance of effort.  This $23 million was the cost.  A recent State Auditor’s report shows that special education is one of the biggest cost drivers in K-12 education.


Referendum cap: The bill raises the referendum cap from 18.6% to 26%; $200 per student of additional referendum authority to “grandfathered” school districts; referendum equalization increased to $600 per student in FY 2007 and $700 per student in 2008 and later.


Alternative Compensation for Teachers (Q-Comp): The bill funds teacher pay reform at $78.5 million in aid and $9 million in levy. For districts that qualify that is $260 per pupil ($190 in aid and $70 in levy). Most of the funding will be available in FY 2007.


Get Ready/Get Credit: The bill funds this program at $11.6 million. The funding will assist local school districts to implement or to continue offering college level courses for juniors and seniors and to offer tests that may give those students college credit while still in high school. This was one of the Governor’s major initiatives.


Low Referendum District Equity/Discretionary Levy: Provides schools districts that have referendum below the 95th% with an additional $46 per pupil in board approved equalized discretionary levy.  Districts that are above the 95th% receive $23.


Deferred Maintenance: Beginning in FY08 districts are allowed to levy $60 per pupil for deferred maintenance if they are not eligible for the existing alternative facilities bonding and levy program.


Compensatory Pilot Project: Anoka-Hennepin, Rochester, Robbinsdale, Osseo and SouthWashingtonCounty schools will receive funding to study how changes in the state’s compensatory funding formula would affect low-income students.


Compensatory revenue for new immigrants enrolled after October 1:  Proposal not funded.


Nutrition: The Senate stopped the slide in nutrition funding by standing firm on an increase to school lunch and milk programs. The Governor cut funding to these programs in 2003. ($2.9 million)


Libraries: The Electronic Library of Minnesota (ELM) funding will increase to $1 million for the biennium. That’s up $200,000 from the base.


Gifted and Talented: The bill contains funding to help school districts design and fund gifted and talented education programs. Schools will receive $4 per student in 2006, $9 per student in 2007 for gifted and talented programs. ($11 million)


Carpenter Bus Levy: School districts will be allowed to levy in order to cover the cost of defective Carpenter buses they may still be using as part of their fleets. ($2.2 million)


Telecommunications Aid: Schools will receive additional funding for Internet access and other telecommunications related costs. Funding in this area has been flat for a number of years. ($7.5 million)


Red Lake: In the wake of the RedLake shootings, the school district will receive $50,000 to help cover costs. ($50,000)


Department Cuts: The bill cuts the Department of Education by $2.6 million.


Perpich Center for the Arts: The PerpichCenter will receive an additional $400,000 above base budget amounts.


Minnesota State Academies: The Academies will receive additional funding to cover special education costs. ($1 million)


4-Year-Old-Pre-Kindergarten: Schools will receive help to continue their four-year-old pre-kindergarten programs. ($392,000)


Best Practices:

            Humanities Commission:        $800,000

            MN Historical Society :           $300,000

            New Visions/Chance to

            Grow:                                      $325,000

            Schools Mentoring

            Schools:                                   $50,000

            Principal Leadership

            Institute:                                  $800,000


            Opportunities:                         $200,000


Local Fund Transfer Provisions: A number of local fund transfers were agreed to for the final bill: Lake Crystal/Wellcome; Russell; Ruthton; Windom; Chokio/Alberta; Butterfield; Clinton/ Graceville/Beardsley; Hastings; MACCRAY; McLeod West; Win-E-Mac; East Grand Forks. The WaconiaSchool District lease provision (Senate version) was also included in the final bill.


Let’s Go Fishing: The bill appropriates $325,000 for a grant to “Let’s Go Fishing” of Minnesota project. The program helps senior citizens get out of nursing homes for a day or two to fish on Minnesota lakes.


School Start Date:  Effective FY07 school cannot start before Labor Day.


Physical Education: Proposal to increase the number of required hours of PE and health education was not adopted.


Ballot language: Language simplified for voter approved referendum ballot.


Charter schools and extracurricular activities: Proposal to require districts to allow charter school students to participate in MSHSL sponsored activities was not adopted.


Rigorous Course Waiver: Provision allowing school boards to waive graduation requirements for rigorous courses such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs.


Prohibition on School District Advocacy: House proposal to prevent school employees from advocating for or urging defeat of pending legislation did not pass.


Vouchers:  Proposal for “access grants” was not adopted.


Full Day Kindergarten: Funding for full day K was not adopted.


School Employee Statewide Health Insurance: No provisions for school statewide health insurance were included in the bill.


Driver’s License/Truancy: The House agreed to accept the Senate provision that gives the courts more authority to help schools with truant students.


Special Education Task Force: The bill establishes a task force to study how special education services are delivered to non-public school students by public schools. The task force is required to report findings to the Legislature by January, 2006.


No Child Left Behind (NCLB): The bill contains a provision that directs the Commissioner of Education to seek waivers to some NCLB provisions, to report back to state Legislature by 2007, and to recommend whether Minnesota should opt out of NCLB at that time.


Education Finance Task Force: The bill does not contain the language that would finish the work of the Governor’s Task Force on Education Finance. The Senate advocated for the completion of the task force’s work to include identification of needed revenues to adequately fund schools.


Character Education: The bill contains provisions encouraging school districts to integrate or offer instruction on “character education”. Character education involves curriculum that promote character qualities such as: attentiveness, truthfulness, respect for authority, diligence, gratefulness and patience.


Anti-Bullying Policy: Requires school districts to design anti-bullying policies.


American Heritage Education Act: This provision is a compromise between House and Senate language. The final bill requires that districts not “censor or retrain instruction in American or Minnesota history or heritage based on religious references” in our founding documents.


Higher Ed Council: The Higher Education Advisory Council must convene a working group to develop standards that describe the skills and knowledge that a high school student needs at entry to college.


Transportation Committee: School Boards may establish transportation safety committees to recommend transportation safety policies and develop a comprehensive student transportation safety plan. Members of the public, law enforcement, school bus companies and district personnel may be appointed to the committee.



Early Childhood Funding Provisions:


Minnesota Early Learning Foundation:  The bill allocates $1 million for the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF) a public-private partnership to identify cost-effective ways to deliver quality early care and education to at-risk families and children.  Another $1 million will be matched by a group of corporations supporting early childhood programs including Cargill, McKnight Foundation and

United Way



Early Childhood Family Education: The bill provides $5.5 million for Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE).  The Senate’s original bill called for $10.5 million and the House’s original bill called for $15.5 million. 


Head Start: The bill includes $4 million for Head Start, an early childhood program for low-income families.  The Senate’s original proposal included $7.6 million for Head Start and the House proposal included no increased funds for the program. 


Adult Basic Education: The bill includes $252,000 in increased revenue for Adult Basic Education that provides funds that allows adults to obtain their GEDs, participate in workforce education, allows immigrants to take English as a Second Language courses and citizenship/civics education courses to prepare non-citizens for U.S. citizenship.


Coordinated Services Planning Grants: The bill includes a $50,000 grant for a project in Northwest Hennepin County that will promote the school readiness of children by coordinating and collaborating with community and neighborhood-based services that help stabilize at-risk families.


Community Education: The bill provides $1 million for Community Education Programs. 


Health and Developmental Screening: The bill allocates $1.3 million for health and developmental screening.  The bill moves the earliest age at which districts can screen children from 3 ½ years old to 3 years old, and provides higher reimbursement rates for districts that screen children at an earlier age.