Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Rapid Fire Wednesday.  Only two committee meetings, but both rattled off bills with time to spare.  The House Education Finance Committee heard SF 485, Representative Paul Anderson's bill  that provides grants for agricultural educators to run summer programs.  Representative Dean Urdahl's HF 1024 would change the small schools revenue to accommodate districts up to 1,500 pupil units.  The current formula phases out at 980 pupil units.  Tax Chair Greg Davids' HF 786 would allow districts to re-finance their maximum effort loans.  As you may recall, last year the Legislature netted $50 million by forcing (Oops.  I mean "strongly encouraging.) six districts with maximum effort loans to pay them off early, saving the state money in the process.  It was thought that no districts would be interested in following suit, but lo and behold, there are.  HF 1428, Speaker Kurt Daudt's bill, would clarify the nonresident tuition rate for court-placed students.  Representative Matt Grossell's HF 1220 is a local bill for the Nevis school district that would allow them to spread the levy resulting from the conversion of previous referendum authority over a number of years.  Last, but certainly not the least, was Representative Peggy Bennett's HF 1680, which is also known as Erin's Law.  Erin's Law is named after Erin Merryn, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and she has made it her mission to promote educational curriculum and activities that will reduce instances of this horrific crime.  Two adult survivors of sexual abuse as children testified in favor of the bill and their words were certainly moving.  Here is a link to the Erin's Law website for more information about efforts to lessen, and hopefully eliminate, child sexual abuse:  Erin's Law

The Senate E-12 Policy Committee likewise heard five bills.  Two of the bills  that were heard were authored by E-12 Funding Chair Carla Nelson:  SF 1397 and SF 1056.  SF 1397 would provide greater stability to students in foster care by awarding a pilot project for a district to develop a program that ensures students in foster care can maintain a consistent educational program.  SF 1056 provides a great to promote Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs.  E-12 Policy Chair Eric Pratt's SF 711, a bill that would fund education partnerships, was also heard and it had a great set of witnesses attesting to how programs like St. Paul's Promise Neighborhood and Minneapolis' Northside Achievement Zone are accomplishing great things by bringing together education, human services, other community support services, nonprofits, and volunteers to narrow the achievement gap.  SF 453 is Senator Roger Chamberlain's bill on assisting students with dyslexia, largely by creating a position in the Minnesota Department of Education to help school districts develop interventions to help struggling readers get to grade level.  The last bill of the day was SF 855, a bill authored by Senator Patricia Torres Ray that would provide funding to school districts to augment basic skills revenue for students with limited or interrupted formal education.

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