MSBA at the Capitol — Senate Ed. Finance Committee: Funding for capital facilities, teacher evaluation missing from Dayton’s budget

One day after Gov. Mark Dayton released his budget proposal, Senate committee members were pressing Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius with their concerns over his education recommendations — particularly the lack of funding for school capital facilities, inflationary increase to the basic education formula and teacher evaluation.

Commissioner Cassellius laid out Gov. Dayton’s education priorities — which emphasized early education — during Wednesday’s Senate Budget Division Committee.

An investment of $109 million to expand voluntary public prekindergarten education statewide and early learning scholarships was one of the most attention-grabbing of Dayton’s education budget recommendations. Dayton’s budget also included more than $19 million for Head Start.

While the budget included a 1 percent increase for the K-12 basic funding formula for each of the next two years (a $174 million total), several committee members peppered Cassellius about why the governor was moving forward with new programs — instead of providing funding for school buildings and teacher evaluation.

Sen. Alice Johnson inquired about teacher development and evaluation funding, while Sen. Bill Weber asked point-blank: “Any new money for facilities?” Cassellius responded: “No, not in this budget.”

“This budget does not meet the needs of Minnesota school districts and Minnesota families,” Sen. Eric Pratt said. “What about the commitments we already made?”

Cassellius defended the governor’s vision, stating that this budget focuses on the state’s “vulnerable students,” rather than buildings and teachers.

Sen. Greg Clausen and Sen. Sean Nienow took aim at the governor’s budget’s miniscule funding increase.

“With this budget proposal, this would be a cut to school districts because it’s not keeping up with inflation,” Clausen said. “I am worried about the budget’s implications at the local level.”

When Johnson asked the committee if anyone had yet proposed legislation for a larger increase on the formula, one member pointed to Sen. John Hoffman’s MSBA-sponsored SF163 bill. 

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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