Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Three Blog Entries in a Day?  Sounds like we need a song with "three" in the title, so how about Gimme Three Steps by Lynyrd Skynyrd?

As promised, here is a more digestible presentation of the education articles in the omnibus supplemental appropriations bill.

Article 33-School Safety
Article 34-General Education
Article 35-Education Excellence
Article 36-Teachers
Article 37-Special Education
Article 38-Facilities, Technology, Libraries, and Nutrition
Article 39-Early Education and Self-Sufficiency
Article 40-State Agencies
Article 41-Forecast Adjustments

As I stated earlier today, the money in the bill is not overwhelming.  To me the most troubling aspect of the safe schools funding is that there is an increase of $18 per pupil unit for the coming school year, but that is scaled back to $5.50 per pupil unit starting next biennium.  Not to sound snarky, but are we going to solve all the school safety issues next year to the extent that funding can be scaled back in subsequent years?

There aren't quite as many grants as there were in 2016, when the bill looked like Bud Grant's family reunion (speaking of Bud, great segments on Dan Barreiro's Bumper-to-Bumper show on KFAN this afternoon).  A plethora of grants is always a bit disappointing when there are so many needs across all school districts, but when the legislators are limited to one-time money, they don't have a lot of options.

The academic balance language in the Senate bill was dropped, but the House's summative rating framework was retained.  The House moved away from the five-star rating system to a one-hundred point system, but the basic gist of things stays the same.  The language of the rating system is found in Section 19 (p. 28) of Article 35.

So the question remains, "Does the Governor sign this bill?"  He asked for separate budget and policy bills and this bill lumps all the budget recommendations and policy provisions in one single bill, which goes beyond policy and funding being combined but spread across issue areas (i.e. education funding and policy in a single bill, health and human services funding and policy in a single bill, etc.).  We can then take things a step further and ask, "Given the funding is below the Governor's recommended level and there is little, if any, policy he wants in the bill, why would he sign it?"  These and many other questions will be answered between now and Sunday, when the curtain has to come down.  There are three other major pieces of legislation that will loom large in this year's denouement:  the tax bill, the bonding bill, and the pension bill.  There are other items that will likely elbow their way into the conversation, particularly the proposed constitutional amendment to dedicate the sales tax from auto repairs and replacement parts to the trunk highway fund.  All of these could play a part in the negotiations between the Legislature and the Governor in the next few days.  Stay tuned.

Two Great MinnPost Articles.  MinnPost has been doing a great job of covering education this session and the past week saw two articles of great interest.  In last Wednesday's edition, reporter Erin Hinrichs focused on a number of school districts that are facing budget cuts in the year ahead.  SEE members Rockford and North Branch were featured in the article, with a photo of Rockford Superintendent Paul Durand accompanying the article.

Here is a link to that story:  Chronic budget shortfalls: a look at the last-ditch solutions some Minnesota school districts are relying on

On Friday, Greta Kaul provided some context for the Governor's $138 million request for emergency education aid.  The article features perspectives from a variety of education voices, including some who don't believe the influx of funding proposed by the Governor is warranted.

Link:  As Minnesota debates a last-minute funding boost, some historical context for state-funding of schools

To close out the day, let's turn to the Lynyrd Skynyrd ballad Tuesday's Gone, which it will be in a couple of hours.

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