Friday, March 30, 2018

It's Always Something.  At least that's what Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say on SNL's Weekend Update way back when.  The "something" that will be part of this year's education policy discussion is the proposed return of the five-star rating system and that will set up a confrontation between the Legislature and the Governor on the issue of accountability.  Both the House and Senate omnibus education policy bills contain similar provisions that would bring back the five-star rating system.  The current school rating system on the Minnesota Department of Education website isn't the easiest thing to navigate, but it provides both a wealth of information and some context to the school environment that parents need to consider when choosing a school.  Going back to a school grading system that is solely based on achievement on test scores really buries a lot of school quality measures.  It will be interesting to see how this debate is resolved.

In the meantime, here she is, Roseanne Roseannadanna.

Senate Education Policy Committee Passes Senate Omnibus Education Policy Bill.  It was a fairly compact meeting as far as these types of meetings go, with the elapsed time coming in around four hours.  There was plenty of discussion around the changes in school achievement and several amendments were attached--including one on incorporating the concept of affirmative consent into sex education curricula--but it was a relatively calm hearing with most of the amendments being defeated on a straight party-line vote (which isn't odd at this stage of the game).

Here's an article about the affirmative consent language that went into the House omnibus education policy bill.   Bill would mandate affirmative-consent instruction for all Minnesota public high school students 

The Senate has similar, but not identical language.

House Releases School Safety Proposal.  House leadership unveiled a $50 million package for school safety improvements yesterday.  It appears it will be similar to the Senate proposal in that it will be flexible for districts and will consist of a combination of grants and increased levy authority.  The Senate has more money in its bill, but the aid portion is one-time money for the 2018-2019 school year.  The Senate also provides eight years of increased equalized levy authority at the tune of $100/PU for fiscal years FY 2020 through FY 2028 through an increase in the Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue (LTFMR).  The House has made that revenue stream more flexible by allowing it to be used for school safety improvements, but so many schools have hit the limit in what they can levy under that program that the increased flexibility does not add up to much.

What the House proposes does go beyond the Governor's recommendation and there may be a confrontation over the Governor's proposal to make School Readiness Plus permanent over legislative proposals to channel revenue almost exclusively into school safety this session.  Hearkening back to the original theme of today's entry:

Here is the MPR story on the House proposal:  House GOP ups ante on school safety push

The Legislature is on break next week, but when they return on April 9, be ready for some high-flying action.  The nuts-and-bolts of tax conformity have yet to take shape and budget targets have yet to be set.  The Governor has outlined his budget proposal, but the stumbling block in his proposal may be the amount of money he has obligated for the next biennium with an increase in special education funding and the incorporation of the school readiness plus funding into the base.

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