ST. PAUL, Minn. – Senator Steve Cwodzinski (DFL–Eden Prairie) provided the following statement on the egregious and inadequate Republican Education Budget bill agreement.
“Here in Minnesota we have a constitutional duty to adequately fund public schools, in order to build a more intelligent citizenry. This bill prevents us from doing that. By failing to increase per-pupil funding by a full 2 percent, school districts will be forced to lay people off or attempt a referendum. For families, this means larger class sizes and reduced support staff for students in need or increased property taxes. Additionally, I am deeply troubled by the repeal of voluntary pre-k. There was an incredibly high demand for this program last summer, and it deserves to be expanded, not eliminated. We should be passing our kids a torch and instead we are giving them a matchstick.” said Senator Cwodzinski.
Key provisions in the 2017 Education Bill
- The bill provides about $100 million less for the per student funding formula than the Governor, which means schools will get about $30 less per student. That difference will strain school district budgets, potentially raising property taxes, increasing class sizes and cutting classroom programs.
- Invests $274 million for a 1.5% increase to the basic funding formula increase. This is the main funding driver for school classroom budgets.
- There is a $47 million cut to the voluntary pre-k program; effectively ending the program that helped send 3,300 4-year-old children in 74 school districts to pre-k last fall. (Governor Dayton and DFLers hoped to expand the program; 60 percent of districts that applied for pre-k funding last year were denied due to lack of funds, showing the extreme demand for the program.)
- Closes the 30-year-old Perpich School for the Arts in Golden Valley.
- Schools are strongly encouraged to provide a personal learning plan to students who have not met third-grade reading proficiency benchmarks.