The Governor’s proposed budget that was released on Tuesday would have a series of effects on Greater Minnesota schools. Here’s a look at six ways it could impact you:
- Basic Formula
Governor Dayton promised during his campaign to increase the basic formula allowance in each year he’s in office. He accomplished that with ‘50&50’ on the formula in his first budget deal and he’s proposing another $52 on the basic formula starting in the next fiscal year. The $52 amounts to 1 percent on the basic formula. His overall proposed spending changes for K-12 amount to 3 percent for the next biennium. The majority of the new funding he’s proposing doesn’t kick in until the second year of the biennium, fiscal 2015.
- All Day, Every Day K
Governor Dayton’s taking some of the advice from the Education Finance Reform Work Group that recommended flattening the pupil weights to 1.0 for grades 1-12. In fiscal 2015, he’s proposing to increase the kindergarten weight from .55 under the new formula weights (K is currently at .612 and a first grader is 1.115) to .70 for those districts providing all day, every day kindergarten. The catch is that in order to get the .7 reimbursement, the district must offer the all-day kindergarten program as part of the general education program. That means schools won’t be able to charge parents for half a day of kindergarten that might otherwise be offered through the community education program. MDE Commissioner Cassellius testified this change is expected to grow all day, every day K participation from 55 percent of students to 85 percent in a few years. Look for the legislature to push the kindergarten weight to 1.0 for voluntary all day, every day K programs as one of their major priorities this session.
- Early Childhood Scholarships
The Governor proposes spending $40 million to fund 11,000 scholarships that parents can use for early childhood programs. The programs would need to have a 3 or 4 star rating from Parent Aware. This proposal, while gaining steam, is at odds with those looking to put dollars into school-based early childhood programs.
- Special Education
Special education would receive an increase of 13 percent ($125 million), starting in fiscal 2015. The Governor is proposing a new distribution formula for special education dollars that’s in line with the Education Finance Reform recommendations. The recommended formula changes came with $194 million in additional funding and so we’ll need to take a close look at how the new distribution formula works for districts. The Governor’s budget page on this change item reads:“The new special education formula will include a pupil-driven formula that accounts for the incidence and cost related to disabilities as well as poverty concentration and an excess cost formula to make funding more predictable and ensure that funding is targeted to districts with the greatest need.”
- Teacher Evaluation Funding
The Governor’s proposal would give non-QComp districts $22 per pupil to help pay for the costs associated with conducting teacher evaluations under the new state mandate. QComp districts receive $170 per pupil from the state and can levy an additional $90 per pupil for this program if they choose to do so.
- General Education Levy
What’s not in the Governor’s proposal is the creation of a new intra-district general education levy (GEL) that was proposed by the Education Finance Work Group. We’re told the Governor doesn’t want to be associated with any property tax increases. The GEL proposed by the work group doesn’t raise property taxes in the vast majority of districts. However, those with less than $300 per pupil in operating referendum authority would have seen local property taxes. Although the increases would be very small, the Governor isn’t interested in having his finger prints on that with an election in his future