The governor’s budget proposal for E-12 funding makes good on his promise to increase funding for schools every year he serves in office. This year’s education package totals $373 million with more than a quarter of that dedicated to voluntary public pre-kindergarten statewide.
Investment in early childhood education has a huge return; studies show that every $1 the state invests in early learning can yield up to a $16 return on investment. The governor’s budget also invests $19.4 million toward eliminating the waiting list for Head Start. Head Start promotes school readiness for low-income children.
The budget proposal also invests more money in the basic per pupil funding formula by $174 million over the next two years. By increasing the amount schools receive to $5,948 per pupil, the governor is giving districts more flexibility to meet their unique needs, whether that’s by lowering class sizes, investing in technology, or hiring more school counselors.
Gov. Dayton’s budget proposal also expands the state’s free school breakfast program through the third grade. By putting $28.1 million into the program over the next biennium, all elementary kids through the third grade will have access to a nutritious meal to start their day.
There were several items missing in the governor’s budget that were brought up during the Senate E-12 Policy and Budget Committee hearing this week. The Senate is prioritizing increased funding for school facilities, additional funds for technology purchases for school districts, as well as increased funding to address the deficient school counselor to student ratio.