ST. PAUL, Minn. – What began as a state-run pilot project a decade ago has grown into a system that Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin, Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids) argues can help close the state’s achievement gap. Sen. Hoffman is chief author of a bill that invests $14 million per biennium into compensatory funding revenue, which is given to school districts based on their percentage of students on the free or reduced lunch program. The bill also makes the funding program permanent, currently it requires reauthorization every two years. The additional revenue is used by districts to help increase students achievement and test scores.
Hoffman says his bill, which received its first hearing in the Senate E-12 Finance Committee on Thursday, is about bringing equity to school districts and helping students succeed.
“We know compensatory funding works, it gives school districts with a higher proportion of kids receiving free or reduced lunch – a needed boost. By targeting money to districts that need it most to help these struggling students meet performance standards, we are slowly, but steadily closing the achievement gap and building the world’s best workforce,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman explains that compensatory funding has helped the Anoka-Hennepin School District improve student performance and work toward the goal of all students achieving passing grades. He says the district used the compensatory funding it received to invest in direct service to students and provide instructional coaching with classroom teachers for young students. He argues, his bill isn’t about giving his district new dollars, it’s about offering schools stable funding that has proven results.
“Even with the additional dollars this bill would bring schools, Anoka-Hennepin is receiving $934 less per pupil than a similar sized district. If we were to provide all districts with the same dollar amount per child the state would be looking at an investment of $174 million. My bill is a fraction of this, but it’s a really good step forward,” said Hoffman.
You can contact Senator Hoffman at Sen.John.Hoffman@senate.mn or by calling his office at (651) 296-4154.