Monday, February 16, 2009

Stimulus Package Passed. After watching the federal conference committee proceedings on the stimulus bill, I came up with the following analogy: The Minnesota conference committee process is to a crock pot as the federal conference committee process is to: (a) a pet show, (b) spontaneous combustion, (c) a horror movie, or (d) a microwave. I suppose how one answers would depend upon one's politics. While the federal action was quick (compared to the Minnesota conference committee process that seems to drag on forever), conservatives tend to look at the results of the process on this particular piece of legislation to be (b), while those on the left side of the spectrum tend to think of it more in terms of (d).

At any rate, Congress has acted and the President intends to sign the legislation later this week and sometime before the millenium, Minnesota can expect to receive approximately $2.8 billion in revenue from the package. A large portion of the revenue will go directly to school districts in the form of assistance for Title I programs and special education revenue. The details of the package are not yet clear, as there will likely be constraints on how the money can be spent or a yet-to-be-determined waiver process to give districts greater flexibility, but we know the approximate revenue amounts districts will be eligible to receive. It is difficult to discern at this point given the rules for the disbursement of federal funds under current law whether or not districts will be able to spend all of the revenue generated for them in this package.

The Senate E-12 Funding Division will be hearing MDE's interpretation of the stimulus bill on Wednesday morning at 8:30 AM in Room 112 of the State Capitol. I will provide more details as they become available.

In the meantime, here is the link for the Title I and Special Education amounts for Minnesota's school districts:

Stimulus Package Amounts:

Minnesota Public Radio Story about Governor's Projections of Stimulus Package:

Integration/Desegregation Working Group. One of the more interesting legislative working groups that has been assembled this year is the House's panel looking at the state's integration efforts and the funding formula devoted to this purpose. This subject has been percolating since the Legislative Auditor's report on school district integration revenue that was issued in November, 2005.

The working group, chaired by Representatives Jerry Newton (DFL-Coon Rapids) and Robin Brown (DFL-Moscow Township), wants to clarify the purpose of the integration program and construct the revenue program to match this revised definition. There is currently confusion between the achievement gap and the physical movement of students into more racially-integrated settings. While there is no tension inherent in this confusion, the question of whether or not the revenue should be distributed under the current program assumptions is a valid one.

As part of these proceedings, Representative Newton suggested that all funding organizations develop a definition of this program. I hope to consult with all of you in the next few weeks to construct our position.

Legislative Auditor Integration Revenue Link:

Bill Introductions, 2/16/09



HF 896--Hortman--Defining a locally controlled process for establishing hazardous traffic condition pupil transportation zones and authorizing a levy to pay for certain pupil transportation costs:

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