St. Paul, Minn.— Senator Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield) has been one of the legislature’s strongest advocates for Minnesota’s students and teachers since his election. In the Senate’s Education Budget Division, this year’s Supplemental Budget Proposal includes several of Sen. Dahle’s bills, which are designed to improve student learning, address the state’s teacher shortage, and enhance teacher training and development.
One of the most significant sections of the bill is composed of Sen. Dahle’s Teacher Shortage Act (TSA). He commented, “Our state has a serious problem ahead, as our pool of teacher candidates grows smaller and smaller and our schools have a more difficult time filling critical positions.” In order to attract more of Minnesota’s best and brightest to the teaching profession, grants would be made available for unpaid student teachers, and some loan forgiveness would make it easier for new teachers to stay in the profession, which has seen wages lag in recent years.
A provision Sen. Dahle authored sets up after-school enrichment grants for community-based organizations, schools, and other entities, and received $500,000 in the proposal. Sen. Dahle has also promoted the creation of an alternative teacher licensure pathway for paraprofessionals who already work in the district. Other initiatives in the TSA include funding for the Collaborative Urban Educator program, American Indian Teacher preparation funding, and details for a statewide teacher job board to help districts find the candidates they need.
“Once in the classroom, we need to make sure the teachers who need help get it, and that the very best teachers become even better,” said Sen. Dahle. “That’s why I fought hard for $10 million to help school districts fund teacher training and development, and I’m happy to say that the committee has agreed it’s a priority.” Sen. Dahle has also successfully secured a place in the budget proposal to remove the cap on Q-comp funding, so rural districts can access the benefits of the program.
This year, Sen. Dahle built on his prior successes in acquiring funding for rural school facilities, and was able to include a provision that would provide long-term education funding reform. This provision would allow districts to rely less on burdensome residential property taxes and provide relief for districts that need school facility improvements. The Education Omnibus Finance bill will be incorporated into the Senate’s overall finance bill before it is negotiated with the House version in the upcoming weeks.