Monday, February 09, 2009

Thank You Representative McCollum. It was great to see so many SEE members at the AMSD-hosted event featuring US Representative Betty McCollum (D-MNCD4) this afternoon. Congresswoman McCollum did a marvelous job outlining the House version of the stimulus package and contrasting it with the Senate version. It was a really terrific session.

Representative McCollum expressed her disappointment with the Senate's decision to eliminate the school infrastructure funding from the bill. I am also disappointed that was dropped, but after speaking with Congresswoman McCollum's staff, I was further disappointed that the distribution formula for the infrastructure money will not be changed in the event the school infrastructure returns during the Senate/House conference committee.

As I complained yesterday, the infrastructure money is distributed on the levels of Title I money received by each district. In other words, if you have high levels of Title I, you get more infrastructure money. If it were simply a factor of a few hundred thousand or even a million dollars of difference per district, it wouldn't be a big deal. But when the largest district in the state--Anoka-Hennepin--receives more than $20 million less than Minneapolis and more than $15 million less than St. Paul, something is radically wrong with the distribution.

While it is doubtful, at best, that this distribution can be fixed, hopefully future infrastructure funding for schools (if it is indeed continued at a future date) will be distributed on a per square foot basis. At least I had the opportunity to discuss that with the Congresswoman's staff.

Charter School Meeting. The Senate's charter school working group chaired by Senator Kathy Saltzman (D-Woodbury)--pictured on the left--met on Monday afternoon to discuss charter school facilities issues. Unlike a lot of charter school meetings, this one remained really buttoned-down, as the testimony and the questions were very much process-based. The Senate will be developing a package of charter school reform initiatives in the next month or so (after the workiing group holds one more meeting). I am certain that Senator Saltzman would welcome your comments as that package is being discussed.

Bill Introductions--2/9


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