House Passes Education Policy Conference Committee Report. By a vote of 80-49 after a debate that was surprisingly devoid of serious contention, the House passed the conference committee report on HF 2397, the omnibus education policy bill. Nine Republicans joined an overwhelming majority of DFLers, with one DFLer voting against the bill in the final tally. The primary complaint lodged by the Republicans was the additional mandates that are contained in the bill (and there are some). A bulk of Article I is comprised of new requirements (some of which districts are likely already doing on their own) relating to English Language learners. A bulk of the special education language springs from the Caseloads Task Force that met last fall, a bill that tightens up the seclusion and restraint process, and a study on the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). The proposed study has elicited a lot of comments since it was included in the final conference committee report, as there are some who are concerned that a single system of MTSS will emerge from the study, but in my conversations with staff at MDE (who will conduct the study), they don't foresee that happening. I urge you all to look at the language (Article IV, Section 13) and, if interested in participating in the study, calling MDE. I know some superintendents and special education directors have done so already. This could be a very interesting study and a wide range of opinions on what a successful MTSS framework would look like and the discussion that surrounds this study should prove lively.
There is also language in the bill emanating from the recommendations of the task forces that dealt with the uniform adult basic education diploma and career and technical education.
The bill may be taken up in the Senate as early as tomorrow, but with the bonding bills making their way to their respective floors, it may have to wait until the action on those bills is completed.
Omnibus Supplemental Appropriations Bill Still Stalled. Another day, another day in which the conference committee on the omnibus supplemental appropriations bill did not meet. One of the complicating factors is that it appears that the Governor may be reluctant to go as high on proposed expenditures as had been earlier thought. There appeared to be agreement last Friday on a target of $293 million (I don't know where the $313 million comes from), but in a letter to legislators delivered on Monday, it appears that the Governor was not fully party to that agreement and does not want to go beyond $263 million.
Here is a link to the letter; http://www.scribd.com/doc/222200697/2014-05-05-GMD-Budget-Targets-Letter