Sen. Mary Kunesh Ushers Essential Education Finance Legislation to Senate Passage

ST. PAUL, Minn. — In the early hours of Tuesday, May 7, Senate Education Finance Chair Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton) ushered to Senate passage an education finance bill that supports districts as they implement the historic 2023 education budget; funds grants for teachers in training and for anti-absenteeism programs; and modernizes essential technologies. HF 5237 passed 34-30.

“This legislation reflects our commitment to uplifting districts, educators and students and making Minnesota the best state for education,” said Senator Kunesh. “As a career educator, I know that teachers, students and district leaders know our schools bests, and I’m proud to have consulted extensively with them as we shaped this legislation. From additional funding for evidence-based literacy education to sustaining grants for aspiring teachers of color, this bill directs resources to where they’re needed most in our schools. It will help our students thrive and keep experienced educators in the classroom, and it represents the Senate DFL’s dedication to making Minnesota schools the best they can be.”

Key provisions include:

  • $33.9 million for the Read Act, supporting actions like paying substitute teachers while classroom teachers take time to receive evidence-based literacy training;
  • $5 million for the new Student Connections 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 million for Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers mentoring and retention grants;  and
  • $2.7 million to update and modernize PELSB’s essential online licensing system.

HF 5237 passed the Minnesota House 68-61 on April 30. It will now move to a conference committee. 

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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