The E-12 Conference Report, released late Tuesday by Minnesota legislators, calls for $303 million in funding for Minnesota schools, including a 1.5% & 1.5% on the formula with no de-linking of the formula to related formulas. This falls short of the Governor’s proposal for $708 million.
Other notables in the E-12 report include:
- Repeal Voluntary Pre-K – with a backfill of lost revenue to the VPK school districts through School Readiness funds
- Freeze Pathway II at current level
- Unrequested Leave of Absence (ULA) will be a required negotiated item in teacher contract
- $375,000 a year for the Concurrent Enrollment State Partnership for credentialing teachers for CE
- Eliminate state funding for Regional Centers of Excellence
- Close Perpich Center for Arts Education
Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius’s testimony and interaction with the conferees highlighted the hearing held Tuesday evening. The Commissioner made an impassioned plea for more funding, Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) and other priorities in the Governor’s proposal.
She and the committee politely sparred back and forth on whose turn it was to make a move in negotiations, what was a reasonable final target, whether VPK as currently identified was the best model for four-year old children, and some of the policy provisions in the bill.
The VPK discussion is of special interest to rural Minnesota. The majority of school districts that applied in this round serve Greater Minnesota. This year 200 rural districts applied for the funding to serve 9,104 rural four-year olds. This is among the issues that MREA has been advocating for as a part of its legislative platform.
Just before Chair Jenifer Loon adjourned the committee, she was asked, “What’s next?” She replied with a smile, “The best I can say is stay tuned.” Good advice.
The hearing provided a good overview of the issues with a civil yet pointed conversation. Consider watching the recording. You should be able to access it on Wednesday on House Archive Site. Scroll down to HF 890.