When this legislative session started, Republican leaders promised to protect funding for Minnesota’s classrooms. However, the Senate education bills did not hold true to that promise and include proposed cuts in future special education funding by approximately $118 million over the next two years and a total of $411 million over the next four years, undermining our schools’ financial stability.
This cut could prove to be the most hurtful of the bill’s proposals as Minnesota school districts are already facing a $647 million “cross subsidy,” the gap between the cost of providing federally-mandated special education services and the amount they receive from the state to fund them.
On the bright side, the Senate education bill did add $50 to the formula for each of the next two years and developed a new program to reward schools for third grade reading proficiency. But the new formula money came at the expense of inner city and rural school districts, as well as special education programs. It was no surprise that the proposal didn’t receive a single DFL vote.
The most hotly debated parts of the bill centered on the work environment of teachers and school employees.
The proposal eliminated the long standing opportunity for teachers to have a say in their work environment and included a salary freeze and the repeal of staff development funding. By limiting teacher’s engagement in how our schools operate, we risk losing those who are best qualified to teach our children, enhance classroom programs, and help students succeed.
A House-Senate conference committee will begin meeting this week to work out the differences between the two bills before being sent to Governor Dayton for him to sign or veto.
For further information on this bill, please contact my office at: 651-296-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.