On Wednesday, the Senate spent more that six hours debating the omnibus education funding and policy bills.
The Senate Education Finance Omnibus bill (SF 811 — authored by Sen. Chuck Wiger) took the major part of the floor session. Amendments included reallocating proposed funding to add more money on the formula, special education savings accounts, eliminating Pathway II Early Learning Scholarships, and requiring a super majority to modify the payment of the school-aid shift. Only two amendments were adopted — one technical and the other to establish a robotics and engineering grant program.
Before the final vote on the bill, there was a bipartisan discussion for the need to put more money on the general education formula. Both parties shared stories from their school board members, superintendents and parents about the dire situation districts will be in if the formula is not increased from more than 1 percent.
SF 811 passed on a bipartisan vote of 39-28. The House passed its education bill (HF 844) that includes finance and policy on Saturday.
Speaker of House Kurt Daudt named the House education conferees: Rep. Jenifer Loon, Rep. Sondra Erickson, Rep. Ron, Kresha, Rep. Bob Dettmer, and Rep. Roz Peterson.
The Senate E-12 Finance Omnibus bill (SF 811) committee conferees are: Sen. Chuck Wiger, Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, Sen. Kevin Dahle, Sen. Alice Johnson and Sen. Eric Pratt.
The second bill on the agenda was the Senate Omnibus Education Policy Bill (SF 1495) on Wednesday. The bill received strong bipartisan support with a final vote of 53-13. The policy bill was amended swiftly with variety of non-controversial amendments.
A couple of questions were raised about the school calendar provisions that include the before-Labor Day school start date option and the flexible learning year. Sen. Terri Bonoff expressed her disappointment that the elimination of the “last in, first out” approach to teacher layoffs was not included in SF 1495. Overall, SF 1495 received accolades from education committee members and others.