MSBA Government Relations Director Grace Keliher and Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) Executive Director Gary Amoroso requested additional funding for Minnesota’s public schools during Monday’s House Ways and Means Committee meeting.
The House Ways and Means Committee took preliminary testimony Monday as they prepare to adjust the Minnesota House of Representatives’ budget target for the next biennium.
Keliher told the committee that MSBA is requesting $875 million for public education over the next biennium.
“That amount seems like a whopper, but it is not,” Keliher said.
Keliher reminded the committee of the state’s constitutional duty to adequately fund public education and that funding for K-12 education comes from the general education funding formula.
However, as Keliher noted, the last budget cycle brought increased expectations and unfunded mandates upon school districts in the form of teacher evaluations, all-day kindergarten, pensions, new testing requirements and many other provisions.
Those unfunded mandates take a bite out of the general fund.
State funding has been so inadequate recently that is has prompted more than 90 percent of school districts to go out for operating levies to cover their expenses, Keliher added.
Amoroso stressed the needs of the state’s schoolchildren during his testimony.
“We are advocating for every single child in the state of Minnesota that attends public schools,” Amoroso said. “Over the last 12 years, the basic general education formula is about $1,200 lower than what it should be (due to inflation).”
Amoroso added that school districts have a $600 million special education cross-subsidy. “That comes from our general education fund,” he said. “Plus we have $142 million worth of school facilities issues. With all-day kindergarten and (potentially) all-day preschool (for four-year-olds), facilities could come to a boiling point.”
Amoroso also mentioned that it cost $140 million per year to implement the state’s teacher evaluation plan. “We need more money to achieve that plan,” he said.
“We have haves and have-nots in infrastructure,” Amoroso said. “Please consider we are talking about 854,000 children. It is your responsibility as a Legislature to provide that education and those resources.”
MSBA will keep you up-to-date on the latest state-budget information.