Monday, April 04, 2016

Interesting Alliance for Student Achievement Meeting.  The Alliance for Student Achievement--an eleven-member consortium of education interests--got together for its mid-session meeting today to discuss what has happened thus far during the legislative session and what can be expected the rest of the way.  The most interesting part of the meeting was the discussion of the teacher shortage and what the education community can do to alleviate this crucial challenge.

While it appears the legislature will attempt to do something pertaining to the teacher shortage this session, it is difficult to know how much can be done without an infusion of revenue beyond what is contained in the Governor's bill and likely above what the legislative spending targets will be.

There have been three excellent synopses of the teacher shortage put together by education groups in Minnesota this past year and I will link them here (I will link MSBA's as soon as I can find it).

EPIC (Research Arm of Education Minnesota)

Minnesota Rural Education Association

Equalization Bills up in the Senate the Next Two Days.  The Senate Education Finance Committee will be discussing Senator Chuck Wiger's SF 2394 tomorrow.  Senator Wiger's bill would increase both the size of the second tier (from $760/PU to $1,000/PU) and the equalizing factor (from $540,000 RMV/PU to $650,000 RMV/PU).  The cost of the bill is about $42 million.

SF 2394

On Wednesday, the committee will hear Senator Kevin Dahle's SF 2231.  This bill would express the equalizing factor for the debt service equalization program as a percentage of the statewide average ANTC instead of setting as a constant.  Although this bill won't infuse a lot of new tax relief into the system, it is nonetheless a helpful bill as it will preserve debt service equalization aid and prevent it from dwindling as property wealth in a school district grows.  Currently, with the equalizing factors for both tiers in the form of a constant, the aid percentage for a district goes down as its property wealth increases.  SF 2231 will help school districts make the commitment to voters more consistent as the percentage of state support for building projects won't steadily decline (and usually end up at zero) as property wealth grows.  I don't know how many times I have heard school district administrators, school board members, and voters complain that "when we passed our bond issue, the state was picking up 30% of the tab and now just a few years later, it's down to nothing."  While there may be still be some variance in the percentage year-to-year, it will no longer take a header off the high board and cannonball the taxpayers.

SF 2231

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