MSBA is pleased that Gov. Mark Dayton’s supplemental budget has identified some crucial funding needs for Minnesota public schools.
Special Education Cross-Subsidy
One of MSBA members’ biggest concerns is finding a solution for the $679 million cross-subsidy for special education. Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal looks to fund nearly $17 million of that amount in FY19 and recommends another $43 million in the next biennium. MSBA has lead the charge in creating of a special education funding task force (HF 2846/SF 2698) that can look at the funding issues and recommend steps to fund the $679 million cross-subsidy over a period of time. We are hopeful such a group can be established for long-term funding issues. The governor has proposed an additional $43 million in the 2020/21 biennium to address school district special education costs.
The governor’s support of Safe and Secure School Act is very timely, and would be a one-time benefit of $18 per pupil for school safety – whether it be for building improvements, police liaisons or programs suited to a school’s safety needs. His proposal also establishes a school-based mental health grant opportunity. In FY 2020 and beyond, the proposal would double the safe school levy from $36 per pupil to $72 per pupil and establish a minimum levy amount of $30,000. And, the proposal would equalize the safe school levy.
MSBA is also glad to see Gov. Dayton tackling the issue of teacher pensions. Adequate state aid to fund the employer portion of the increase ($10.8 million) is very important to our school boards and districts.
Additional proposals related to E-12 education include:
- Increasing funding for voluntary Pre-K and School Readiness
- Expanding Early Learning Scholarships to children from low-income families who are 3 years old or younger, and giving parents more time to use the scholarships.
- Increasing funding to the Help Me Grow system for children and their families served from birth to third-grade.
- Money for background checks for all Head Start locations
- Increasing funding for kindergarten students with a disability
- Simplifying referendum and Local Optional Revenue calculations
- Using leftover Regional Library Telecom Aid to be used to improve internet access at public schools
- Removing the funding cap for Q Comp program participants
- Cutting off-grade test questions to shorten the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments
- One-time funding of Border-to-Border Broadband grants to underserved areas of the state (Employment and Economic Development)
- In total, the governor’s supplemental budget for 2018-19 proposes to invest an additional $35.9 million in the education portion of the state’s budget.
“The proposals to the supplemental budget around special education, safe schools and stabilizing school district budgets with respect to the employer portion of the TRA are critical for our school boards and school districts,” said Kirk Schneidawind, MSBA’s Executive Director.