August 18, 2009

August 18, 2009

Update for July 29, 2009 — From Mary Cecconi, Executive Director

? Further Analysis of the 2009 Legislative Session – Part 3 ?



AYP scores are out and it’s a good time to check your district’s status at the website of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). It’s a little tough to find, but after you select your school or school district, scroll down the right sidebar to “Your Growth.”

Legislation passed in 2009 requires MCA-II scores to report more than just proficiency. At the site, you can find how much growth schools are making—Low, Expected or Exceptional growth. A large percentage of students can miss being termed proficient on the test but are making exceptional growth. Conversely, students might be proficient but making lower than expected growth. 

While this evaluation of our schools is still using only one indicator (the MCA-II) to determine success, it is a more revealing use of the data. Check it out!

What Happened at the Capitol during Session 2009 and how will it affect my school come September?

This is the fourth update in our ongoing attempt to share a bit of analysis and greater information about the provisions in the 2009 E12 Education Bill that will affect our schools during the next two years.

In prior updates, we covered the funding provisions in Article 1, General Education and provisions from Article 2, Education Excellence dealing with testing and the GRAD rule, use of the growth model to report academic progress for state report cards and increased requirements for pre-licensed teachers in comprehensive scientifically-based reading instruction, the formation of the P-20 Education Partnership, the law surrounding district site-governed schools and the new regulations dealing with charter schools. If you have missed any of these updates, they are readily available at our website.

FYI: An official bill summary is available, but if you have questions about specific provisions that you have been tracking, please email me.

HF 2, Article 3: Special Programs

This article covers statutes for children with special needs. Among many other provisions, this article deals with the exclusion and expulsion of pupils with disabilities, the necessity for Individualized Education Programs for children at the start of the year, processes for alternative dispute resolution and due process hearings.

  • Section 8 Subdivision 10 strikes existing language on mediated agreements and inserts a requirement that the mediator ensures that any resolution of a dispute or an agreement to use is in writing and signed by the parties.
  • One considerable change is in Section 8 Subdivision 16: the burden of proof now lies on the party seeking relief. This is more often than not the parent of the child with a disability. The section also deals with processes and responsibilities in the placement of a child with a disability in another district, expedited due process hearings and the decisions of hearing officers.
  • Another significant provision (Section 11) deals with restrictive procedures standards. During the session, this was an area of great consternation and negotiation. This provision defines these standards and requires staff using restrictive procedures to complete specified training in the use of those procedures.

Other provisions deal with placement in other districts and the responsibility for that placement. It appeared that much of this Article had been negotiated through the use of a Special Education Task Force that worked over the last two years. 

HF 2, Article 4: Facilties and Technology

A few interesting provisions developed in this article:

  • Section 6 clarifies that the commissioner may not impose a minimum acreage requirement on a new school facility’s site or the site of a remodeled school facility and that the commissioner may not impose a maximum cap on the total renovation costs of a remodeled facility as compared to the cost of new construction.
  • Section 11 authorizes intermediate school districts to receive telecommunication/internet access equity aid — something that had been denied them before.
  • Section 12 deals with the appropriations of money for facilities and technology programs.

HF 2, Article 5: Libraries, Nutrition and Accounting

A potpourri of provisions in this one article! Many folks are surprised that public libraries are dealt with in the E-12 Education Omnibus Bill, but it is true!

Article 5 also provides directions for how a school board must publish a summary of its truth-in-taxation information, a directive that the school district’s official website must be placed in a qualified newspaper and rules for school district accounting procedures.

Specifically, Section 7 directs the MDE to provide service to people with visual and physical disabilities through the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library. It also allows the advisory committee for the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library to conduct committee meetings by telephone or other electronic means.

Section 12 authorizes certain named districts to transfer funds from one of their district funds to another. This must be done through a change in statute, and it must be done only by legislation and district by district.

Check out all the News and Hot Topics at our website!

“Childhood has no rewind: Our children cannot go back to grade school and get another education when times are better and we all have more to give. When the playground is empty and the children are gone, either we will have sacrificed for them, or we won’t.”
                                                                            —from a Parents United poster

Questions? Email Mary Cecconi
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
651-999-7391
www.parentsunited.org