The E-12 Education Committee this week heard two non-COVID related bills, ignoring legislation that would address school budget concerns and hourly worker pay during the pandemic crisis.
The two bills heard would help address vaping concerns in Minnesota schools. However, one will cost the state money, adding to current school district budget concerns by requiring new health instruction for students. The second bill would provide additional levy authority, only helping four Minnesota school districts or requiring schools to divert existing funds away from school counselors and social workers, security officers, and mental health initiatives. Given the governor’s announcement that students will not be returning to schools through this academic school year, there appear to be larger issues for the Legislature to focus on during a pandemic.
Additionally, legislation discussed by the E-12 committee last week would allow schools to transfer funds from various budget areas to fill gaps caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and distance learning requirements. It would also provide teacher licensure extensions and waive statewide testing requirements. The Senate bill does not include a provision ensuring that school hourly and contract workers get paid through this pandemic.
Senate Republicans continue to block legislation that would guarantee hourly and contract worker pay. We are pushing to include this provision, which is currently included in the House version of the bill. (SF3184) (SF3312)