State budget forecast estimates $1.3 billion surplus

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Minnesota’s budget and economic outlook has improved since the end of the 2019 legislative special session, according to the Minnesota Management and Budget’s 2019 November Budget and Economic Forecast released on Thursday, December 5.

A better than expected close to the last biennium, an improved revenue forecast, and a small decrease to estimated spending create a forecast surplus of $1.332 billion in the fiscal year 2020-21 biennium.

The stable budget outlook allows for an automatic allocation to the budget reserve account, bringing the reserve balance to its statutory target level of $2.359 billion.

While Minnesota’s economy and revenues continue to grow into the fiscal year 2022-23 planning estimates, budget challenges remain for that biennium.

Visit the Minnesota Management and Budget website for more information.

 

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School Finance Working Group Meeting Update

On Thursday, November 21, the School Finance Working Group met at the Minnesota Department of Education. The St. Paul Public Schools special education team provided an overview of how special education in general is funded in Minnesota with a case study of how special education funding works in St. Paul Public Schools. They discussed the complexities of the formula by presenting St. Paul’s actual data, an overview of teacher pay and the cost of training needed beyond professional development, and some of the challenges with tuition billing and access fees. They also provided a brief history of the 2012 Finance Working Group’s results and how those results were implemented. The presentation included a deck and a hand out that will be provided to all members.

There was a discussion on how future meetings would be structured, including adding extra time on both the front and back end of the scheduled meetings. The December meeting is slated to be dedicated to the English Learner (EL) and a case study on the EL cross-subsidy. January and February are tentatively slated for a discussion on the basic education formula.

 

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Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

The big news of the week is that Congress has passed a Continuing Resolution to keep the government open until December 20 and the President has signed it. Negotiations for a permanent deal will continue after the recess.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no weekly update next week.

Congressional Update

House and Senate Leaders Pass Temporary Funding Deal

This week, the House (231-192) and Senate (74-20) passed HR 3055 to avoid a government shutdown and extend funding at current levels until December 20.  President Trump signed the measure last night. Though the funding has been temporarily extended until December 20, there is no guarantee that congressional leaders will be able to overcome the policy and political hurdles that have impeded the process all year, which could mean that federal programs will continue operating at FY19 levels well into 2020.

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Holds Hearing Regarding FCC

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee is expected to hold a hearing with the full Federal Communications Commission including FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on December 5.  This will be the second time the Chairman has provided testimony to this committee.  We expect the hearing to include discussions on the recently released report from the Government Accountability Office which made recommendations on how the FCC can better police fraud in its broadband subsidies program.

Notable K-12 Bills

  • H.R.5206To amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to establish a fund to provide support services for individuals participating in certain training activities under such Act. Sponsor:Rep. Smith, Adam [D-WA-9]
  • H.R.5204To direct the Secretary of Education to study student mental health at institutions of higher education and to issue guidance on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for mental health and substance use disorder policies of institutions of higher education, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Porter, Katie [D-CA-45]
  • H.R.5171To permanently authorize the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. Sponsor:Rep. Dean, Madeleine [D-PA-4]
  • H.R.5148To improve program integrity through State evaluation of institutions of higher education, requirements for student complaint submissions, and the establishment of policies and procedures to address closure of institutions of higher education, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Levin, Mike [D-CA-49]
  • S.2899A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to support apprenticeship programs.Sponsor:Sen. Bennet, Michael F. [D-CO]
  • S.2887A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to address and take action to combat rural teacher shortages across the United States. Sponsor:Sen. Jones, Doug [D-AL]
  • S.2857A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to count military and veterans’ education benefits as Federal educational assistance, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Sen. Carper, Thomas R. [D-DE]

 

 

 

 

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Teacher mentorship and retention grant applications due by December 18

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Source: Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB)

During the 2019 legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature designated PELSB as the administrator of a grant to support efforts for teacher mentorship and retention of effective teachers.

The Teacher Mentorship and Retention of Effective Teachers Grant is designed to help develop teacher mentoring programs for teachers new to the profession or district, including teaching residents, teachers of color, teachers who are American Indian, teachers in license shortage areas, teachers with special needs, or experienced teachers in need of peer coaching.

The grant application is open to:

  • School districts;
  • Groups of school districts;
  • Coalitions of districts, teachers, and teacher education institutions; or
  • Coalitions of schools, teachers, or nonlicensed educators.

Access the grant applications on the PELSB website.

The timeline to apply for a Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant for the 2020 fiscal year is:

  • November 22: PELSB will hold an informational meeting about the Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant to provide updates and answer questions about the application and grant selection process. The meeting will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the PELSB Board Room, 1021 Bandana Blvd. E., Suite 222, St. Paul, MN 55108.
  • November 29: Prospective grant applicants must submit an Intent to Apply to PELSB Grant Manager Saba Teshome by email at saba.teshome@state.mn.us.
  • December 18: Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant applications are due by 4:30 p.m.

PELSB is encouraging all interested districts, groups, and coalitions to consider applying for the Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant. Additionally, PELSB encourages members of the public to share this call for grant applications with any interested individuals.

Contact Saba Teshome by email at saba.teshome@state.mn.us with any questions.

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Report calls for equitable, reliable, robust broadband access for K-12 students

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On November 6, 2019, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) — the principal membership association representing the U.S. state and territorial educational technology leaders — announced the release of “The Broadband Imperative III: Driving Connectivity, Access and Student Success.”

This report advocates for equitable, reliable, robust broadband access both on and off campus to prepare all students for life and work. This publication discusses innovative technologies and pedagogical approaches to personalize learning for all students. Further, the report emphasizes the importance of comprehensive broadband planning to meet the needs of teachers and students to avoid a technology disruption. Exemplars highlight states and districts where robust bandwidth has already positively impacted teaching and learning.

Access this report at https://www.setda.org/priorities/equity-of-access/broadband-imperative-iii.

Visit https://www.setda.org/outreach/press-releases/press-release-2019/broadband-imperative-iii to view the complete press release from SETDA.

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Federal Advocacy and Weekly Policy Update

Congressional Update

Congress Faces Fiscal Year 2020 Spending Deadline

Both the Senate and House will be in session next week, following a one-week House recess. At the top of congressional leaders’ “to do” list is restarting discussions for the fiscal year 2020 federal appropriations process, including the U.S. Department of Education’s budget, which has been at a standstill over the president’s proposed border wall expansion and other controversial policy riders. Time is running short. Congressional leaders and the White House must act before temporary funding for the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies expires on November 21. We do not expect Congress to be able to pass the Department of Education’s budget – or providing funding for any other government agencies – before the deadline. Instead, we expect legislators to approve a second “continuing resolution” that will provide additional temporary funding at fiscal year 2019 levels. The length of this stopgap spending authority is uncertain. It could be as short as mid-to-late December or extend into in 2020. Regardless, NSBA/MSBA plans to continue pressing appropriators to support increased funding for the major education formula programs and other key accounts.

Senate Education Committee to Hold Youth Vaping Hearing

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing “Examining the Response to Lung Illnesses and Rising Youth Electronic Cigarette Use” on November 13 at 10:00 AM. Live video of the hearing will be available on the committee’s website. The committee has not invited education witnesses to testify at the hearing, but given this issue’s importance to school districts, students, and students’ families, we are closely monitoring Congress’s work in this area.

Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act)

This week there was debate on the Senate floor concerning the SECURE Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in May in a bipartisan vote of 417-3. NSBA worked with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees to oppose the inclusion of an expansion of 529 plans for homeschooling and related voucher proposals and were successful in keeping those provisions out of the House passed version of the legislation. Despite the overwhelming vote in the House, the legislation has been stalled in the Senate due to holds preventing its passage via unanimous consent by Senators Pat Toomey (R-NC), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Senator Cruz has been advocating for the homeschooling provisions to be reinserted which is what has caused him to hold the bill. There was an effort during the floor debate to revive that provision, but it failed. Despite widespread support to move forward with the House bill, it is unclear what will happen with the legislation. NSBA/MSBA actively monitored the discussion this week and stayed in touch with Senate staffers during the debate. NSBA/MSBA will continue to aggressively advocate for the House passed version of the bill

Administration Update

Secret Service Releases Targeted School Violence Report

The U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center released a report titled “Protecting American’s Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence”.  The report analyzed data from 41 incidents between 2008 and 2017. The report noted that schools should have a comprehensive plan to avert violence along with physical security measures. The report also said that plan should create a threat assessment team, including faculty, staff, administrators, coaches and available school resource officers and that mental health professionals should be part of a collaborative process to prevent violence.

Notable New Legislation

  • H.R.4989 To authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award a grant to a health care organization to promote student access to defibrillation in elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Lawson, Al, Jr. [D-FL-5]
  • S.2784 A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide grants to local educational agencies to establish “Family Friendly School” policies at 500 elementary schools that align the school day with the work day to better support working families and to disseminate the learnings from these model schools so that other local educational agency’s may adopt these practices, and to establish a supplemental 21st century community learning centers grant program to support programs and activities during summer recess when school is not in session. Sponsor: Sen. Harris, Kamala D. [D-CA]
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Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

November 1, 2019

Congressional Update

House Committee Approves HEA Update with Teacher and School Leader Provisions

On a party line vote, the House Education and Labor Committee approved (28-22) H.R. 4674 “The College Affordability Act”, following a three-day debate about the future of the Higher Education Act. The Democratic bill includes a central focus on strengthening educator and leader preparation, including by taking the following steps:

  • Continues and strengthens the existing Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Grant program, which supports “coordination between school districts, state agencies, and teacher preparation programs at institutions to include school leader preparation programs.” Among other improvements, the bill proposes to allow “TQP grantees to develop Grow Your Own partnerships between high-need LEAs and teacher prep IHE programs to recruit and support paraprofessionals and other non-teaching staff from the LEA in gaining teacher certifications to teach in their own communities.”
  • Increases “requirements and capacity for effective oversight and intervention for at-risk and low-performing teacher and school leader preparation programs to ensure program improvement.”
  • Authorizes “funding for competitive grant programs that support institutions to: increase the diversity of the educator workforce by improving teacher and school leader preparation programs at minority-serving institutions; ensure new teachers are prepared for diverse learners by increasing the number of teacher preparation programs that embed dual certification for special education instruction and English-language instruction in general education programs;  improve the ability of teacher preparation programs to offer pedagogy and coursework on social and emotional learning competencies, trauma-informed practices, and strategies to create a positive school climate; offer graduate fellowships to doctoral students to advance high-quality instruction on pedagogy for fields that are consistently cited as shortage areas by states such as special education; English-language instruction; and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), including computer science.”

Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge the FCC to Not Adopt New E-rate Caps

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Maize Hirono (D-HI) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to stop a rulemaking proceeding that would merge the funding caps for the E-rate program and Rural Health programs and establish a new overall cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF), which supports broadband access. In their letter the senators said, “Especially in rural areas, USF programs have been key to redefining access to services and ensuring that the most vulnerable Americans have the tools and bandwidth necessary to communicate with one another, receive telehealth services, and engage in teaching and learning online…We urge the Commission not to proceed down this path, and instead to consider other ways to support these critical programs that fulfill the mandate of Congress and that serve all Americans.”

Senate Fails to Advance FY20 Education Spending Bill

Congress and the Administration have until November 21 to either complete the fiscal year 2020 budget for the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies or pass another stopgap spending bill to continue government operations at fiscal year 2019 until a spending deal can be reached. Earlier this week, Senate leaders failed to secure the 60 votes required to initiate a floor debate on a fiscal year 2020 spending package that included the U.S. Department of Education’s budget. Policy disagreements unrelated to the Department of Education’s budget have continued to frustrate the Senate’s ability to push the appropriations process ahead. Although the House will be adjourned next week, senators will continue to seek a way forward that would enable the body to finalize negotiations with the House and then send the Department of Education’s budget to the White House for final approval. NSBA is continuing to champion investments in the major education formula programs, including ESSA Title I, IDEA Part B, ESSA Title IV, and other key federal funding sources that school districts need to support their students.

NSBA Files Comments Responding to FTC Privacy Rule Making

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission invited public comment on the agency’s regulations associated with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA regulates private companies’ collection and use of data about children less than age 13, including data collection by education technology companies that work with schools. In its comments, NSBA advocated for “a federal framework that not only vigorously protects student data privacy, but also provides flexibility to local school districts to fashion policy consistent with local priorities and existing data systems. By working with all stakeholders, the FTC can address areas of overlap between the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), outline clear and objective criteria for schools, create language extending a safe harbor when such criteria are followed, and institute a workable rule regarding parent consent for the use of EdTech in schools.”

By simplifying the framework of FERPA and COPPA, NSBA believes the Department of Education and the FTC have an opportunity to make the use of EdTech tools for student learning more efficient and effective.

 Administration Update

U.S. Department Invites New Application for Innovation Pilot

The Department of Education released a Federal Register notice inviting new applications for the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority, as authorized under ESSA. This program provides SEAs with the authority to operate innovative assessment systems in their public schools within the law’s accountability requirements. During the initial demonstration period, the first three years, no more than seven SEAs may participate. The first two competitions, held in 2018 and 2019, resulted in the award of the authority to four states to participate. Now, three additional states may be approved for this authority during this competition. Deadline for notice of intent to apply is November 27, 2019, and applications will be due on January 27, 2020. Further information is available here.

Notable New Legislation

 

 

 

 

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