Legislation to help students, essential school staff is stopped in committee

Two amendments that would have brought much-needed funds to schools and students struggling to have access to technology for distance learning and another to pay essential school staff during the pandemic were scuttled in the E-12 Education Committee last week.

The Republican-led committee wasn’t willing to discuss the proposal to provide close to $36 million in direct aid to students and schools for broadband and technology access to aid in distance learning. Many families in Minnesota struggle to access adequate internet connections and technology options such as computers and tablets that are necessary during the distance learning requirements currently. The proposal would have been paid for through existing budget parameters.

The second proposal offered would have ensured that essential school staff – such as classroom aids, childcare workers, custodians, and bus drivers – would have been paid during the pandemic. The Republican Senate has refused to discuss this proposal. Minnesota has about 20,000 paraprofessional workers employed across the state.

The amendments were tabled by the committee chair; it is unclear when or if they will be brought up again for further discussion or a vote.