Thursday, January 31, 2019

More on Special Education.

It is pretty clear from the get-go that the Legislature is going to spend a lot of time addressing special education funding and policy during the 2019 Legislative Session.  In addition to another presentation by Tom Melcher and Paul Ferrin, the House Education Funding Division heard from a panel of superintendents representing different types of school districts.  From the left, the superintendents were Drs. David Hansen, Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart; Carlton Jenkins, Robbinsdale; Joe Gothard, St. Paul; and Mike Funk, Albert Lea.  The panel outlined angles that may differ from district-to-district, but the challenge of unpredictable funding exists throughout the state is consistent among all types of districts.

Here is a link to the MDE presentation regarding the funding formula:  MDE Special Education Presentation.  This is the same Powerpoint that was used at Wednesday's hearing, but yesterday's hearing centered on trends in the number of special education students and disability categories, while today's concentrated on funding (those slides start on page 23 of the document).

Bill Introductions

Thursday, January 31


SF 628 (Eichorn)--Increases state aid for school telecommunications projects.

SF 629 (Rosen)--Allows for the possession and use of sunscreen by students while on school property.

SF 638 (Kiffmeyer)--Creates aid guarantee for low per pupil revenue school districts.

SF 639 (Kiffmeyer)--Creates new categorical revenue program for low per pupil revenue school districts with low levels of per pupil property wealth.

SF 640 (Utke)--Eliminates requirement that transition planning begin in ninth grade.

SF 651 (Chamberlain)--Requires screening for dyslexia.

SF 661 (Carlson)--Modifies student absence for religious holidays.

SF 663 (Chamberlain)--Assigns authority for transporting certain homeless students.

SF 670 (Chamberlain)--Referendum equalization changes.  I have yet to see a data run and I may be able to develop something over the weekend, but the gist of the approach in the bill is to cap local effort in each tier of the referendum with all revenue in each tier above that cap being comprised of state aid.  Interesting concept.

SF 688 (Clausen)--Staff development and program evaluation for intermediate districts and cooperative units.

SF 706 (Nelson)--Creates task force to gauge progress of education finance reform efforts.

SF 709 (Chamberlain)--Modifies student assessment data collection.

SF 712 (Utke)--Provides grant to Minnesota Principals Academy.

SF 717 (Dahms)--Allows for functional behavioral assessment in certain circumstances.

SF 723 (Little)--Authorizes grants for adult English Learner programs.

SF 733 (Nelson)--Provides staff development to improve reading instruction and authorizes payment of  hiring bonuses.

SF 734 (Nelson)--Appropriates money for suicide prevention training for teachers.

SF 735 (Nelson)--Codifies teacher code of ethics in statute and repeals rule.  Further requires school district ethics complaints procedure.

SF 747 (Isaacson)--Establishes grant program for career and technical education needs.

SF 749 (Dahms)--Eliminates requirement for conciliation conferences.

SF 760 (Tomassoni)--Modifies building lease levy for geographically isolated school districts.


HF 501 (Persell)--Appropriates money for Minnesota reading and math corps programs at American Indian-controlled tribal contract and grant schools.

HF 508 (Haley)--Expands school board options when disposing of surplus computers.

HF 514 (Pryor)--Increases safe schools levy.

HF 523 (Drazkowski)--Modifies provisions on transportation of nonresident pupils within resident district.

HF 525 (Persell)--Modifies calculation of transportation sparsity revenue and creates task force to study transportation funding.

HF 531 (Christensen)--Allows school districts to start school prior to Labor Day in the 2020-2021 and 2021-22 school years.

HF 532 (Erickson)--Requires background checks and expands mandatory reporting.

HF 566 (Wazlawik)--Requires school district safety assessment teams.

HF 575 (Huot)--Provides for disposal of unclaimed drugs or medications at school.

HF 576 (Kunesh-Podein)--Requires school districts to pay for a college entrance test for all students in grades 11 and 12.

HF 577 (Heintzeman)--Reallocates 40% of the revenue in the arts and culture heritage fund to public school arts programs.

HF 578 (Lien)--Modifies K-12 education tax credit.

HF 579 (Kresha)--Authorizes certain school safety projects using long term facilities maintenance revenue.

HF 602 (Urdahl)--Ensures students are adequately prepared to be capable citizens able to fully participate in the political process.

HF 618 (Runbeck)--Modifies calculation of referendum equalization revenue.  Companion to Senator Chamberlain's SF 670.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Caught Up (with Bill Introductions at Least).

Education-Related Bill Introductions from Monday, January 28.


SF 505 (Rosen)--Expands definition of extended time revenue to include students taking career and technical courses.

SF 506 (Rosen)--Allows districts to use long term facilities maintenance revenue for building demolition and debris removal.

SF 507 (Wiger)--Increases funding for Area Learning Centers.

SF 508 (Torres Ray)--Requires school districts to develop a recess policy for elementary school students.

SF 521 (Tomassoni)--Appropriates money for a collaborative summer intensive program.

SF 531 (Wiger)--Increases special education funding.

SF 580 (Eichorn)--Modifies calculation of nonpublic pupil aid.

SF 616 (Newton)--Creates post-secondary enrollment options incentive aid and enhances reimbursement for materials purchased as part of post-secondary enrollment options.

SF 617 (Newton)--Appropriates revenue based on general fund forecast to the permanent school fund for certain land sales.


HF 379 (Gunther)--Expands definition of shared time students.

HF 428 (Gruenhagen)--Modifies definition of a textbook.

HF 431 (Albright)--Authorizes fire drills for schools and education institutions.

HF 438 (Quam)--Amends the definition of public employee to include replacement employees who are employed for more than 60 days as a replacement teacher or faculty member.

HF 448 (Her)--Increases funding for English Learner programs.

HF 470 (Gruenhagen)-- Authorizes certain nonpublic students in grade 10 to participate in career and technical courses offered through the post-secondary enrollment options program.

HF 482 (Swedzinski)--Creates choice scholarships for students who have dropped out of high school.

Hearing Update.  The Senate cancelled all hearings, but the two education-related committees did meet and both had interesting presentations.  Newly-appointed Commissioner of Education Mary Catherine Ricker appeared at the Education Funding Division in the morning and at the Education Policy Committee in the afternoon.  After hearing from Commissioner Ricker, the Funding Division turned to the issue of special education with a presentation by Dr. Tom Melcher and Paul Ferrin from the Minnesota Department of Education.  Assistant Commissioner Daron Korte also chimed in a junctures to respond to questions from the committee.  Below is a link to the MDE presentation, which outlines a lot of statistics surrounding the special education issues.

The Education Policy Committee heard from MDE's Future Assessment Design Working Group and also heard Representative Peggy Bennett's HF 125, a bill that would require the work of grant recipients to be measured for effectiveness.  Seeing that there are a number of grant requests each year, it is easy to see why the Legislature wants to look at the programs of those seeking to renew grant funding to make certain value is being delivered.  An amendment was added in committee to exempt grants paid for with federal dollars.  After adoption of the amendment, the bill was laid over for possible inclusion in a later omnibus bill.

Here is a link to HF 125:  HF 125

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Still Catching Up!

I only managed to get the Senate bills from the past two weeks entered during my last blogging session, so here are the House bills for the same period.  As I said in that missive, there are a fair number of bills that were introduced, heard, and passed last session that became part of the ill-fated omnibus supplemental appropriations and policy bill vetoed by the Governor that are resurfacing.

House Introductions

Monday, January 14

HF 55 (Jurgens)--Modifyies school lunch provisions.

HF 57 (Erickson)--Education statutes clean-up bill repealing obsolete provisions and making nonsubstantive language changes.

HF 72 (Gunther)--Allows districts to used long term facilities maintenance revenue for building demolition and material removal.

HF 73 (Gunther)--Expands definition of extended time revenue to students enrolled in career and technical courses.

Thursday, January 17

HF 114 (Lucero)--Creates minimum aid guarantee for low per pupil revenue school districts.

HF 115 (Lucero)--Creates new categorical revenue program for districts with low per pupil revenue and low per pupil property wealth.

HF 116 (Freiburg)--Allows school district board to automatically renew existing referendum levy authority.

HF 125 (Bennett)--Establishes evidence-based grant standard for any legislative grant given to an organizations providing services to pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students.

HF 151 (Urdahl)--Establishes working group to study possible changes to Minnesota's education funding system.

HF 152 (Lueck)--Appropriates money based on general fund forecast to compensate permanent school fund for certain lands.

HF 163 (Youakim)--Makes technical changes to school board vacancy statute.

HF 169 (Daniels)--Modifies charter school admission lotteries.

HF 193 (Murphy)-- Increases special education funding for school districts, reduces the tuition billbacks to resident school districts and adds operating referendum revenue to general education revenue for charter schools

HF 194 (Murphy)--Appears to be identical to HF 193.

HF 196 (Freiburg)--Requires seat belts on newly-purchased school buses.

Tuesday, January 22

HF 207 (O'Neill)--Modifies Monticello special education aid adjustment.

HF 208 (Kunesh-Podein)--Establishes deadline for teacher contract negotiations.

HF 209 (Kunesh-Podein)--Requires schools for report on testing material expenditures.

HF 224 (Sundin)--Requires child safety curriculum.

HF 244 (Claflin)--Requires radon testing for school buildings.

HF 246 (Bennett)--Establishes vocational enrichment program.

HF 247 (Kunesh-Podein)--Establishes grant program to increase student access to licensed media specialists.

HF 248 (Erickson)--Creates grant program to broaden access to music education in rural Minnesota.

HF 249 (Urdahl)--Changes graduation requirements to ensure students are prepared to be capable citizens and participate in the political process.

HF 250 (Kunesh-Podein)--Requires affirmative consent instruction.

Thursday, January 24

HF 292 (Kunesh-Podein)--Provides grant to Girl Scouts River Valley for ConnectZ program.

HF 314 (Youakim)--Allows school districts to start before Labor Day.

HF 323 (Garofalo)--Creates charter school enrollment preference for students living in or near Castle Rock township.

HF 328 (Runbeck)--Requires teacher preparation programs to include instruction on dyslexia.

HF 329 (Runbeck)--Modifies duties of dyslexia specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education.

HF 337 (Davnie)--Authorizes districts to transfer surplus in community education fund to general fund with approval of the Minnesota Commissioner of Education.

In other news.  Erin Golden has been doing some really great reporting for the Minneapolis StarTribune on the education issues that will likely emerge during the 2019 legislative session.  Two weeks ago, she wrote a piece on special education funding (or lack thereof) and just yesterday, she wrote a piece outlining Governor Walz' concern about increasing reliance on voter-approved referendum levies.

The special education article is pretty straightforward (plus includes a quote from me) and the second article recalls the debate we had within SEE during the 1990s as to whether the state should concentrate on making certain that general education revenue was more sufficient to meet districts' needs and greatly limit voter-approved levies while leaving them largely unequalized or to continue to work on equalizing the referendum and debt service levies to provide greater--and fairer--access to voter-approved levies.  The latter approach carried the day in those debates, but I sense in the article that the Governor may want to re-visit that discussion.  Regardless of the direction, the property tax is going to be central if adequate resources are going to be available and SEE will continue to fight for fairness in the application of the property tax.  I'm looking forward to seeing the Governor's recommendations and I am eager to work with him and the Commissioner of Education on making Minnesota's education system both adequate and equitable.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Asleep at the Wheel (and not the band by the same name).

It looks like I haven't blogged in a bit so it's time to get back on the stick and report the goings-on at the Legislature.  The first two full weeks of the 2019 session have largely been devoted to introducing new legislators (and new committee chairs) with the process and the viewpoints of the various lobbying organizations.  The education-related committees in both the House and Senate have heard from all of us in the lobbying trade and two funding themes look to be emerging.  The general education basic formula will always receive a lot of attention, but, in addition, special education funding--both in terms of level of funding and distribution--appears to be running neck-and-neck with the basic formula as far as priorities appear to be stacking up.  In addition, there appears to be some appetite to pare back some of Minnesota's special education rules and regulations in an attempt to reduce the paperwork burden on Minnesota's special education teachers and administrators.  Another item of interest is that a number of provisions from last year's vetoed omnibus supplemental budget and policy bill are being introduced again this session.  Given the change in control of the House of Representatives, it will be interesting to see if all of these provisions have the same success in 2019.

Here are the bill introductions from the past two weeks.


Monday, January 14

SF 94 (Eichorn)--Allows nonpublic students to enroll in PSEO in the 10th grade.

SF 108 (Wklund)--Grant for Works Museum.

SF 109 (Rest)--Allows districts to renew existing referendum authority by board approval.

SF 116 (Clausen)--Requires teacher training to better work with students with dyslexia.

SF 122 (Clausen)--Increases general education formula by 3% and ties formula to inflation.

SF 123 (Clausen)--Requires teacher preparation programs to provide instruction on dyslexia.

SF 136 (Newton)--Allows districts to renew existing referendum authority by board approval.

Thursday, January 17

SF 148 (Dzeidzic)--Requires a school counselor in every school.

SF 159 (Clausen)--Eliminates need to short term objectives on IEPs in some instances.

SF 161 (Clausen)--Prevents public employers from reducing pay for individuals serving on PELSB.

SF 162 (Clausen)--Requires Commissioner of Education to develop child abuse awareness posters.

SF 177 (Bigham)--Requires school safety assessment teams in school districts.

SF188 (Dziedzic)--Requires affirmative consent instruction.

SF 193 (Rest)--Provides for cursive instruction in elementary schools.

SF 196 (Clausen)--Requires teacher preparation programs to include instruction on dyslexia.

SF 201 (Bigham)--Requires radon testing in school buildings.

SF 218 (Dziedzic)--Creates state fund to pay for unreimbursed special education costs.

SF 229 (Eichorn)--Provides funding for reading and math corps at American Indian controlled tribal and grant schools

SF 234 (Wiger)--Provides funding for Race2Reduce water conservation programming.

SF 238 (Housley)--Modifies pupil transportation formula and provides for a teacher transportation working group.

SF 247 (Pratt)--Provides for disposal of unclaimed drugs or medications in schools.

SF 269 (Hayden)--Expands access to driver education programs for low-income students.

Tuesday, January 22

SF 289 (Clausen)--Defines cultural competency for teacher licensure.

SF 292 (Latz)--Increases community education funding.

SF 293 (Nelson)--Requires Commissioner of Education to collaborate on construction and skilled trades counseling.

SF 294 (Nelson)--Requires students receive one course in government and citizenship in grade 11 or 12 beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.

SF 295 (Nelson)--Establishes P-TECH schools.

SF 299 (Chamberlain)--Requires Commissioner of Education to develop an academic achievement rating system.

SF 313 (Bigham)--Requires schools to report on testing material expenditures.

SF 323 (Torres Ray)--Requires affirmative consent instruction.

SF 339 (Hoffman)--Requires child safety curriculum.

SF340 (Draheim)--Provides for transportation of pregnant and parenting students to qualified programs.

SF 355 (Jensen)--Amends mental health education requirements.

SF 369 (Cwodzinski)--Increases funding for school-linked mental health grants, Support our Student grants, and full-service community schools.

SF 370 (B. Anderson)--Special education aid adjustment for Monticello school district.

SF 373 (Hawj)--Requires civics class for high school graduation.

SF 380 (Bigham)--Creates bargaining deadline for teacher contracts.

SF 389 (Pratt)--Authorizes districts to conduct alternative fire drills.

Thursday, January 24

SF 400 (Ruud)--Provides grant to Girl Scouts River Valley for ConnectZ program.

SF 402 (Simonson)--Increases special education formula and reduces tuition billbacks for special education services.  Also provides referendum and local option revenue to charter schools.

SF 403 (Simonson)--Looks like the same language as SF 402.

SF 411 (Kent)--Modifies school lunch provisions.

SF 423 (Utke)--Creates grant program to expand music education across Minnesota.

SF 427 (Little)--Creates enrollment preference for students living in Castle Rock township.

SF 431 (Newton)--Requires adequate levels of counseling services in schools.

SF 482 (Pratt)--Modifies IEP requirements to permit reporting of student performance on statewide assessments.

SF 484 (Rest)--Requires that certain forecasted positive fund balances be used to reduce special education proration.

SF 485 (Nelson)--Provides for competency-based education.

SF 493 (Jasinski)--Modifies charter school admission lotteries.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

First Bills of 2019 Introduced.  It's that time of year again when the first set of bills are introduced in the House and Senate.  31 bills were introduced in the House on Thursday and 91 were introduced in the Senate.  One new wrinkle in the House this year is that all funding bills will first be referred to the Ways and Means Committee from which they will be re-referred to the appropriate budget divisions within the Ways and Means structure.  This change raised a few complaints on the first day of session when the House rules were being debated, as the minority believes the new method of bill referral will be less transparent than the practice of previous years when the budget bills were referred to the funding division or committee directly after introduction.  I don't know if this makes the process less transparent, but the possibility exists that an introduction later in the session could be slowed down by the need for an extra referral.  We'll just have to see how it plays out.

With no further adieu, here are the education-related bill introductions with the link to the bill language embedded in the file number:


SF 7--Nelson--Increases school safety revenue with greater flexibility

SF 14--Wiger--Requires students to take a nationally-normed college entrance test as a requirement for graduation.

SF 15--Goggin--Requires school districts to provide certain access to career options in the military, skilled trades, and manufacturing.

SF 17--Cwodzinski--Requires students take a government and citizenship course in order to graduate.

SF 19--Cwodzinski--Requires students take a personal finance course in order to graduate.

SF 24--Wiger--Increases basic formula by 3% in each year of the coming biennium and additionally ties formula growth to inflation.

SF 25--Wiger--Allows school districts to bond for certain security equipment.

SF 26--Wiger--Increases EL formula (basically doubles formula amount).

SF 27--Wiger--Expands access to innovation zone pilot program.

SF 28--Wiger--Requires school districts to pay cost of college entrance examination for all 11th and 12th grade students.

SF 29--Wiger--Increases equalizing factor for local option revenue program.  No amount designated in bill.

SF 30--Wiger--Increases equalizing factor for operating referenda.  No amount designated in bill.

SF 31--Wiger--Increases equalizing factor for debt service program.  No amount designated in bill.

SF 32--Wiger--Allows districts to use long term facilities maintenance revenue for building modifications that improve school safety.

SF 33--Wiger--Requires assessment for learning readiness for children entering kindergarten.

SF 37--Wiger--Appropriates money for full-service community schools.

SF 49--Wiger--Provides a digital student achievement backpack.

SF 50--Wiger--Proposes $230,000,000 in bonding for school facility safety improvements.

SF 55--Wiger--Increases special education funding and makes changes to special education formula.

SF 81--Wiger--Establishes a Minnesota Reads task force to review literacy programs for children and adults.


HF 2--Edelson--Increases revenue for school-linked mental health services, support our students grant program, collaborative urban educator program, full-service community schools, and homework starts at home program.

HF 19--Erickson--Modifies world's best workforce measurements and reports.

HF 20--Erickson--Renumbers statutes for intermediate school districts.

HF 21--Erickson--Surveys teacher preparation programs.

HF 22--Erickson--Modifies student testing provisions.

HF 23--Erickson--Codifies teacher code of ethics in statute and repeals related rule.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Dueling Press Conferences.  

The House DFL Caucus announced its first ten bills at a noon press conference that outline their priorities for the 2019 legislative session.  The picture above features newly-elected Representative Heather Edelson along side Education Funding Division Chair Jim Davnie outlining the education portion of the press conference.  The bill they will be sponsoring aims to provide more mental health and student support services to students throughout Minnesota by expanding access to school-linked mental health services and promoting the addition of school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, and school counselors in districts throughout the state.  From their comments, they will also be considering expanding the full service community school concept.

Among the other bills included in the DFL priorities will promote paid family leave, attempt to rein in drug and health care prices, and require a more comprehensive system of background checks to purchase firearms in Minnesota.

Here is a link to a story relating to the press conference:  First 10 bills offer glimpse of DFL's ‘Values Agenda’

The Senate Republicans unveiled their first five bills at a press conference yesterday and mental health, including increased access to mental health services in schools, was featured in that discussion.  Below is a video of the press conference.

I Always Follow Orders.  So when an item of click-bait told me to Google my own name (because I would be surprised), I did and I have to admit that I am surprised.  It seems that I am not the only Brad Lundell in the United States and "Iowa Brad Lundell" runs a very successful hog operation in Kiron, Iowa, and is a member of the Odebolt-Arthur-Battle Creek-Ida Grove School District Board.  It's a little late to vote for "Iowa Brad Lundell" as the Iowa Pork Producers Pig Farmer of the Year for 2018, but I hope things turned out well for him in that effort.  Seeing we've been looking at Iowa's use of a local sales tax to finance school facility costs, he would likely be a great source of insight on that matter. 

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

And We're Off!

It's a little early in the year for a horse-racing comparison, but the Legislature kicked off (Oops!  Wrong sport!) today with the new majority being sworn in at the House of Representatives and the Senate reconvening.  There is one new Senator--Senator Jeff Howe who replaced former Senator Michelle Fishbach--with the Republicans maintaining control of the body.  Until last week, it appeared it would be a one-vote majority at 34-33, but with Senator Tony Lourey resigning to become Commissioner-designee at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Republicans have a two-vote edge pending the results of a special election to be held on February 5.

At any rate, it's time to pull out the programs, because as the old saying goes "You don't know the players if you don't have a scorecard."  The links below lead you this year's line-ups in the House and Senate.

House Members

Senate Members

And here are the committee rosters.  As I wrote late last year, the Senate has combined the E-12 Funding and Education Policy Committees into one committee--surprisingly named the Education Funding and Policy Committee--that will be chaired by Senator Carla Nelson.  The House Education Finance Division will fall under the auspices of the House Ways and Means Committee and will be chaired by Representative Jim Davnie.  The House Education Policy Committee will be chaired by Representative Cheryl Youakim.

Here are the links to the aforementioned committees.

Senate E-12 Finance and Policy Committee

House Education Finance Division

House Education Policy Committee

The House has also created a subcommittee that will deal with early childhood issues and will have jurisdiction over budget areas in education and health and human services that provide service to Minnesota families with children who have yet to enter school.  That committee will be chaired by Representative David Pinto.  Below is a link to that committee:

Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division

Frankly, I was surprised that the Legislature convened on a national holiday.  Everyone knows that January 8 is the birthday of  Elvis Presley and somehow the mail was delivered and banks were open today.  Anyway, here's a video of an Elvis television performance from 1956 summing up how I hope the Legislature treats me in 2019.