MREA’s students and school districts are hampered and limited because of the significant decline in funding over the past decade. The longer this trend continues, the more of a negative effect it will have on students. In districts throughout the state, it already has increased class sizes, continued the use of outdated and even failing facilities and equipment, and reduced programs available for students.
- The Basic Formula has declined 9.2% over the past 10 years when adjusted for inflation as measured by the CPI
- Total state and local education funding has declined 17% in 17 years as a percentage of Minnesotan’s Total Personal Income
- Special Education Cross Subsidies (the local share of educating students with special needs) has increased 95% over the past 10 years
- Inequity in general education funding between the wealthiest and poorest district now exceeds 30% and is back to levels not seen since the early 1990’s
Contrary to these trends, MREA believes Minnesota’s investment in education should work for students throughout Minnesota, provide stable state revenue that can pay for inflationary increases in education, and reduce the reliance on local operating referendums.
To achieve sufficient levels of investment in education, MREA supports state tax reform including greater sales tax collections to net additional state general fund dollars. These new funds should be invested in school aid formulas and restore state funding of schools to the 90/10 payment schedule.
To reduce the inequity between the wealthiest and poorest school districts from over 30 percent to 20 percent, MREA supports legislative action to:
- Provide $500/pupil on the general education formula for at least those districts without that level of referendum (either as equity aid or a “roll in” of operating levies)
- Increase special education funding to reduce the cross-subsidy costs to local districts
- Roll the health & safety levy into the deferred maintenance revenue program with an increased allowance per pupil
To address specific educational opportunities for students, MREA supports legislative action to provide:
- Universal access to early childhood and full day every day kindergarten funding or at least increase early childhood and kindergarten funds for at-risk youth
- State funding for the principal and teacher evaluation mandates
- State funding for telecommunications enhancements to make sure all learning communities are online with the bandwidth they need for the 21st Century learning environment
- Continued support of current extended day education funding
- State financial incentives to encourage districts to work cooperatively to efficiently achieve state mandated goals and objectives
- Conduct a state sponsored review of school facilities older than 40 year and develop a plan outlining strategies to repair, replace or eliminate old buildings.