Sunday, March 18, 2012

Other Bills of Interest. So much was covered during deadline week, that I know I will overlook something of interest to someone, but there were a couple of other bills that do merit discussion. Here is a brief synopsis of these bills:

SF 2059 (Nelson-R-Rochester)/HF 2506 (Loon-R-Eden Prairie): This bill would eliminate the staff development allocation formula of 50% to sites/25% to the district/25% to exemplary programs that accompanies the 2% staff development set-aside. SEE has long advocated for the repeal of this portion of the staff development law as what happens with the revenue automatically designated for the sites may not coincide with district-wide (and by extension statewide) staff development goals. The bill was recommended to pass and was sent to the respective floors of the Senate and House.

SF 1185 (Torres Ray-DFL-Minneapolis)/HF 1460 (Slocum-DFL-Minneapolis): This is a bill that was introduced last session and seeks to create a new "hybrid" of charter schools by changing the relationship between the school district in which the charter school is located and the charter school. It is somewhat in the same ballpark as the Forest Lake/Lila Academy bill of last session (SF 452/HF 672) in which those two entities tried to work together more closely. It's hard to see the downside of the legislation, as both the district and the affected charter schools would seem to benefit from the synergy, but some elements of the charter school movement view the effort dimly.

HF 2310 (Erickson-R-Princeton)/No Senate Companion: This bill repeals a number of statutory citations that are no longer relevant given the fact that the language or program has been repealed. Notable among the repealed citations is that of the Profiles of Learning.

SF 2107 (Bonoff-DFL-Minnetonka)/HF 2729 (Loon-R-Eden Prairie): This bill would allocate $250,000 of the current appropriation for early learning scholarships to a parent-child home
program. It sounds like a solid program, but what I found most interesting is that it's the first time I've ever heard an early childhood program endorsed by the conservative-leaning Education Liberty Watch run by Dr. Karen Effrem. The only difference between the House and Senate versions is the language found in the Senate version at the end of Section 1 that speaks to the need for eligible programs to be evidence- and research-based.

SF 2460 (Harrington-DFL-St. Paul)/HF 2801 (Woodard-R-Belle Plaine): The House heard this bill and it doesn't appear to be going anywhere, but it's an interesting bill that would make charter school where at least 60% of the schools' students are eligible to participate in the graduation incentives program an area learning center for purposes of measuring student achievement and graduation rates.

HF 2083 Passes House Floor. The House passed its first version of the omnibus education funding bill last Thursday on a vote of 74-59. Three DFLers joined the Republican majority in passing the bill. One Republican voted against it. The bill has yet to be heard in the Senate, but with two weeks left until the Finance Committee deadline (March 30), I imagine it will be heard soon (perhaps as early as this week). While there are multiple provisions in the bill, the centerpiece is the accelerated buy-back of the school aids payment shift to 70%/30% (up from approximately 64%/36% after the February budget forecast) at the expense of the budget reserve.

Take Me in Your LIFO Boat. I couldn't resist employing a play on words with the old Bluegrass classic (Take Me in Your Lifeboat) as the conference committee on HF 1870/SF 1690 begins its deliberations tomorrow (Monday, March 19) morning. There is only one substantive difference between the two bills and that relates to the status of probationary teachers and that shouldn't be that difficult to resolve.

What may be confusing to those watching at home (and some watching at the Capitol) is why did it take so long to get the bill into conference committee. The bill passed the Senate floor on February 27 and with such a minor difference preventing the bill being sent on to the Governor, I'm not seeing why the conference committee wasn't convened earlier.

It's also important to note that the House language from this bill is included in HF 2083, the aforementioned House omnibus education funding bill and I expect that bill to hit the Governor's desk within the month as well. The Legislature is breaking for the spring religious holidays from April 6 until April 13 and is slated to adjourn no later than April 30 and I would guess (note the word "guess") that the omnibus education funding bill will hit the Governor's desk in the time window between the return from the recess and adjournment.

No one seems to know what the Governor will do once the LIFO bill hits his desk. A op-ed piece written by Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius for last week's Minneapolis StarTribune seemed to inkle that the legislation was headed for a veto, but there is a groundswell of support for the bill and that might sway the Governor's opinion.

At any rate, the fun starts tomorrow morning at high noon in Room 118 of the State Capitol. The conferees are as follows:


Branden Peterson (R-Andover)
Keith Downey (R-Edina)
Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton)
Kelby Woodard (R-Belle Plaine)
Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul)


PamWolf (R-Spring Lake Park)
Ted Daley (R-Eagan)
Benjamin Kruse (R-Brooklyn Park
Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista)
Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka)

If you have comments regarding the bill, I would urge you to contact these members as early in the negotiating process as possible. I'll be there from the get-go and will try to provide insight as to how things are going.

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