(St. Paul, MN)- The Senate Education Finance Omnibus bill passed the Senate on a 39-28 vote today with several provisions championed by Senator Alice Johnson (DFL-Blaine). Sen. Johnson has been a vocal advocate for combatting non-academic barriers to learning: hidden factors that can hamper student learning but aren’t addressed directly in the classroom.
One of Sen. Johnson’s goals is to provide students with a healthy breakfast to help them get a good start to their day. Many young children come to school hungry, which can contribute to behavioral and attention issues throughout the day. The Education Omnibus bill contains $4.191 million to provide breakfasts for all Minnesota first graders. “All parents know that hungry kids don’t perform and aren’t their most successful; our students deserve the stability they need to succeed in the classroom.” said Sen. Johnson.
The Education Policy Omnibus bill also includes Sen. Johnson’s proposal that begins to improve the vision screening process for children just entering school. Sen. Johnson’s bill would help to determine the number of children who have had a comprehensive vision examination so future attempts to improve vision can be more carefully targeted. “One in four children have vision problems. We need to address this impediment to closing our achievement gap,” said Sen. Johnson. “All students deserve the stability they need to succeed in the classroom.”
An additional $1 million to establish more “Full-Service Community Schools’ Districts” will also go far to bring services to the students who need them. When access to community services is difficult, Full Service Schools use a set of community and family partnerships to integrate academics with health and social services, youth development, and family engagement. Sen. Johnson noted that existing programs match children with low cost dental and mental health services, mentoring, service learning, and cultural engagement.
The bill will now be sent to a conference committee with the Minnesota House, at which point the two versions will be reconciled and re-approved by each chamber.
For more information, contact Bryan Wells at 651-296-5561.