December 7, 2011

December 7, 2011

Save this date!
Saturday, January 21, 9:00-11:00 a.m.
Legislative Kick-Off
New this year: An LAC Roundtable!

November Forecast
On December 1 we heard that the state will have a surplus of $876 million. Revenues were higher than expected and projected expenditures were less than projected. The majority of the projected expenditure reductions are in Health and Human Services.

This is only the 2nd time in the last ten years that the state will not be dealing with a deficit and while this feels like a reprieve, by law the dollars must go to restoring the state’s cash flow account and the budget reserve. This surplus is not enough to pay schools back the record amount the state owes them. If the surplus were $5 million larger, “current law would direct the additional dollars to buy-back the K-12 education shift” (MMB press release).

The November forecast also shows a projected deficit of $1.3 billion for 2014-15. It is critical to understand that while we hear all is well, the truth is we still need a long-term solution to our state budget situation.

End-of-year fund appeal
In an amazing outpouring of support for our End-of-Year appeal—with two weeks left in our campaign—we are 92% on the way to meeting our goal! So many of you stepped forward saying the work we do matters enough that you are willing to support us financially. 50% of our annual operating funds comes from individual donors, allowing us to remain an independent voice for our children and the schools that serve them. If you value these Updates, if you value the work we do, please help us continue. Tell us it matters that Parents United is in Minnesota.

A Look Ahead
The 2012 legislative session begins on January 24. Some are seeing a “do-nothing session” but I am inclined to think differently. Redistricting will be a priority, several attempts to amend the Minnesota Constitution will be put forward, and every State Representative and Senator is up for re-election in November—so they will be honing their talking points!  And while a short session allows a longer campaign season, there is legislation from past sessions that needs to be dealt with.

One such piece of legislation is the Math GRAD (Graduation Required Assessments for Diploma) test. Legislation passed two years ago provided a waiver process to allow time for students to be taught the standards that aligned with the newly developed GRAD test. That waiver ends this year. Pay attention in the coming months to this one! Read more.

Legislative Kick-Off
Saturday, January 21, 9:00-11:00 a.m.
TIES Building
1667 Snelling Ave N. St. Paul (Map & directions)
Our annual Saturday morning conversation to share what we know and what we think may happen in the coming legislative session this year will be held Saturday, January 21. This is one of my favorite conversations since we share the most recent intel and generate a whole host of ideas with the best “in-the-know” parents around. Come and bring a friend. The coffee is hot, the rolls fresh and the discussion even more so!

New this year following the Kick-Off: An LAC Roundtable!
11:00 a.m. – noon (RSVP appreciated; please email ann@parentsunited.org)
A one-hour session dedicated to the “care and nurturing” of local Legislative Action Committees.

We are often asked “What is an LAC?”, “How do I start an LAC?” “What should my LAC be paying attention to?” “How do other districts deal with legislative issues?” Whether you have an “official” LAC or a tiny fledgling group interested in becoming more involved this is the group for YOU. We will focus on different LAC structures, a calendar of events and relationship builders for you to use and a chance to hear from other groups who share your interest. If you have an established LAC, please come share your perspective and experience! This hour will directly follow our Legislative Kick-Off session so stay and get connected.

Opportunities for Input

Education Policy Listening Sessions with Senator Franken State Education Director, December 5 – 15, 2011
Elk River, St. Cloud, Moorhead, Albert Lea, Mankato, Forest Lake, Cottage Grove, Fridley, Minneapolis, Apple Valley, Saint Paul

Minnesota Department of Education Statewide Meetings on NCLB Waiver and Plans for New Accountability System, December – February.
December 8, Rochester; December 14, St. Cloud; January and February sessions TBD.

How and why do you use the Internet? – The Parenting 2.0 research project at the University of Minnesota is looking for parents who use the Internet to fill out a 20-minute online survey about how and why you use the Internet.

New @ the Website

  • The Minnesota Department of Education has unveiled their new website! It’s much easier to maneuver and has a parent portal that provides answers to the simplest questions or data that provides information for the biggest data gurus among us. It’s worth checking out!
     
  • Internet Essentials—Spread the word and help a neighbor. If you or someone you know has a child who receives free school lunches, they may qualify to receive fast, affordable home Internet service from Comcast for $9.95 a month plus tax. Offered in Comcast’s service area.
     
  • 2011 November Forecast – A collection of articles and resources related to the November forecast and paying back the 2011 School Funding Shift.
Mary Cecconi, Executive Director (mary@parentsunited.org)
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
651-999-7391
www.parentsunited.org

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