Sen. Mary Kunesh Carries Robust Education Funding Legislation to Senate Passage

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On May 17, Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton), chair of the Education Finance Committee, led the Senate passage of the conference committee report of the 2024 education finance bill (HF 5237) on a 34-33 vote. The education finance bill supports Minnesota’s public schools in providing all students with an excellent and broad-ranging education; improves evidence-based literacy instruction; and will help students navigate the digital world with safety and wisdom.

“I am thrilled to be the champion of this key legislation,” said Senator Kunesh. “It has been a rewarding experience to collaborate with students, educators, and my House colleagues as we developed a bill that addresses schools’ funding needs, advances teacher development, and promotes educational equity. This comprehensive legislation addresses the needs and wants of Minnesota’s student bodies, and it fulfills our legislature’s duty and commitment to ensuring a brighter future for our children.”

Key provisions include:

  • $37.23 million for the Read Act, supporting needs like pay for substitute teachers while classroom teachers take time to receive evidence-based literacy training;
  • $35 million to go directly to school districts to help with the READ Act Literacy aid;
  • $4.6 million for the new Student Attendance Pilot Program, which will help schools creatively address chronic absenteeism using preventative measures and existing school resources;
  • $50 million to add 5,200 voluntary prekindergarten seats in 2025, bringing Minnesota to a total of 12,360 seats statewide; 
  • $6.5 million to establish a pilot program to pay student teachers placed in Minnesota school districts or charter schools, to reduce the financial burden of gaining first-hand experiences; 
  • $6.5 million for Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers mentoring and retention grants;
  • $1 million for Aspiring Teachers of Color Scholarships; and
  • $2.7 million to update and modernize PELSB’s essential online licensing system.

The conference committee report passed in the House on May 17, 70-58. HF 5237 will now move to Gov. Walz’s desk for signature into law.

Mary K. Kunesh represents Senate District 39, which covers the communities of St. Anthony Village, New Brighton, Hilltop, Columbia Heights, Fridley, and a portion of Spring Lake Park.

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