Friday, January 23, 2015

Thanks to All.  Great SEE meeting today.  I want to thank all of the participants.  For those of you who weren't there, the first panel dealt with the alternative compensation/teacher development and evaluation issue and the report from the task force convened by the Minnesota Department of Education to meld the two programs.  Rose Hermodson (who I refer to as Queen to Task Forces), Belle Plaine principal Liann Hanson (a member of the task force), LaCrescent-Hokah superintendent Ron Wilke (whose district has been in alternative compensation--QComp--since its inception), and Prior Lake Assistant Superintendent Jeff Holmberg (whose district just got into the alternative compensation program two years ago) comprised the panel and they all provided a lot of valuable insights on the history of alternative compensation and some of the challenges faced by districts in all stages of the process of either alternative compensation or teacher development and evaluation.  It appears that the recommendations coming from the Task Force will require alternative compensation districts to incorporate the requirements of the teacher development and evaluation program into their existing plan.  While it is easier to start from scratch for those districts who haven't been participating in alternative compensation, the question for those districts will be whether or not sufficient revenue will be forthcoming for them to implement the teacher development and evaluation law without having to resort to dipping into their general funds for yet another cross-subsidy for an unfunded mandate.

Our legislative panel consisted of the House education chairs:  Representative Sondra Erickson, Chair of the House Education Innovation Policy Committee, and Representative Jenifer Loon, Chair of the House Education Finance Committee.  Both chairs did an excellent job outlining the challenges and opportunities facing their respective committees (and their caucus as a whole) as they look ahead into the 2015 session.

Our after-lunch program featured a presentation by the Austin School District's STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Manufacturing) program.  Superintendent Dave Krenz, L.J. Holton Middle School Principal Jean McDermott, and the district's Director of Curriculum John Albert provided an excellent description of their top-notch program that is really doing great things for the students at the school.  The Powerpoint of their presentation will be available on the SEE website under General Meeting Handouts shortly.

It's was good to see so many members at the meeting and energized by what should be an exciting legislative session.

Dribs on Drabs on the Governor's Budget.  In a speech to a conference of child services advocates, Governor Dayton announced that he plans to dedicate over half of the approximately $1 billion forecasted budget surplus for education and other programs that help families with school age and younger children.  Details are sketchy at this point, but the Governor said he plans on expanding the child care tax credit by over $100 million, putting more money into the pre-K scholarship program, providing more financial support for school-based pre-K programs, and increasing revenue for the school breakfast program.  It is assumed (I know, I know, never assume) that the Governor's primary vehicle for increasing support of the K-12 system will be through an increase in the basic formula.  That leaves a lot of holes in the current system left unfilled, but we are still early in the game (and we haven't seen the details of the Governor's proposal).  The Governor will release his budget on Tuesday, January 27, and check back here for details.

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