May 22, 2007

/ 22 May 2007 / Parents United
May 22, 2007

Update for May 22, 2007 — From Mary Cecconi, Executive Director



In This Issue


What is happening at the Capitol? We have an education bill.

The legislature has adjourned. We have a bill passed by both the House and the Senate on Monday. It is up to the governor to sign it or not.

This bill did what it needed to do. It paid the State’s unpaid bill from cross subsidy AND reinstated the special education inflator so that our current situation cannot be repeated. Using the dollars this way was the right, honest approach to funding our schools.

This total for this bill is $794 million, roughly the same as in 2005, when schools received 4%/4% on the per pupil formula. The difference today is that the “cap gap,” which was created by repealing the special education growth inflator in 2003, reared its ugly head—and over the last two years we saw how dollars were simply being siphoned off from our general funds to pay for what the state capped. School districts that went out for levies during that time were simply trying to make up for this cross subsidy with local levies. The actions of the legislative body today have put an end to that.

Legislators knew they needed to fix this problem before adding new initiatives. Both bodies had wonderful ideas and provisions that were struck because of a lack of money. This bill keeps the lights on and pays our bills, but if we want to move forward, we as a state need to decide if we are willing to back new revenue for our schools.

It is interesting that this same scenario can be seen in every area of the budget. There is a wonderful article from the op ed section of Sunday’s Star Tribune that speaks to this very issue.

It would be impossible to speak about this bill without giving the necessary kudos to the legislators who nurtured it through the process. Chairs Greiling, Mariani, Wiger, Clark and Stumpf all deserve our thanks, as do the members of each of the committees. They have been working non-stop since the early days of January to bring us this bill. Many of these provisions were carried by freshman legislators who ran for office to help our schools. They had very difficult decisions to make, hard battles to fight and deserve a great deal of appreciation for putting our kids over politics. Please take the time to express your appreciation to them. Here’s a page with links to the committee members.

In this issue


Highlights of the 2007 E-12 Education Omnibus Bill (unsigned as of May 22, 2007, 9 am)

  • Provides a 2% increase in the per pupil formula in the first year and 1% in the second; this brings the per pupil formula to $5,075 in the first year and $5,124 in the second
  • Provides $326 million to pay down the “cap gap”–the cross subsidy that has expanded since the special education growth factor was repealed in 2003
  • Reinstates the growth factor for special education to 4.6% (according to the Department of Education special education costs increase by about 4.5% annually)
  • $5.5 million restores the 2003 cuts to ECFE
  • $3 million for Minnesota Reading corps–early literacy program
  • $2 million increase for Head Start
  • $3.6 million for Adult Basic Education (ABE)
  • $1.9 million increase for School Readiness
  • Provides $32 million statewide for All-Day K programs
  • $5.4 million for gifted and talented programs
  • $20 million to Minnesota Department of Education for statewide testing
  • $5.3 million for After School Community Learning Grants
  • Commissions a Special Education Task Force to study which state laws exceed federal requirements and how the state should conform to those requirements
  • Districts can now levy $30 instead of $27 for safe schools levy
  • $90 million in one time money for technology, deferred maintenance or use for capital operating expenses
  • $3 million for Math and Science Teacher academies
  • $3 million grant for the Science Museum of Minnesota for statewide science technology, engineering and math initiatives
  • $19 million for AP/IB and concurrent enrollment
  • $1 million for collaborative Urban Educator Program
  • $500,000 for World Language pilot program grants
  • $500,000 in grants for teachers and mentors to participate in National Board Certification process
  • Response to Intervention (RTI), a program for early intervention for struggling students
  • $16 million to provide equity in telecom programs across Minnesota
  • Increase in school lunch funding
  • [$6 million for early childhood scholarships is in the Health and Human Services Bill]

In this issue

If you are interested in how your district may fare under this bill, link to District by District Comparison at our website (second item under Updates).

Three additional policy provisions that I believe have significant importance:

  1. School Finance Reform Task Force establishes a task force consisting of the Commissioner of Education, four senators and four representatives to take up the work that P.S. Minnesota has begun.
  2. Parent and Family Involvement Policy: This bill encourages a school board to adopt a parent and family involvement policy. If a board does so, it must convene an advisory committee to make recommendations to the board on developing and evaluating policy. This provision was brought forward by the Minnesota PTA.
  3. Provision to fund the Office of Educational Accountability through the U of M’s Board of Regents and directs the OEA to convene and facilitate an advisory group of curriculum and measurement experts to consider and recommend how to structure school performance data and school performance report card to fully, fairly and accurately report student achievement.


Priorities of Parents United in this 2007 Legislative Session

Parents United believed throughout the legislative session that the backbone of any funding effort for schools HAD TO include buying down the special education cross subsidy costs. We understand that buying down the cross subsidy frees up a district’s general operating budget in order to address the other demands school districts have. It is also consistent with the attempts of P.S. Minnesota to link cost, resources and student achievement.

In this issue

Questions? Email Mary Cecconi

Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108

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