Basic Skills Revenue (Compensatory) is used to meet the educational needs of pupils who are under-prepared to learn and whose progress toward meeting state or local content or performance standards is below the level that is appropriate for learners of their age. It may also be used for programs that are designed to prepare children and their families for entry into school whether the student first enrolls in kindergarten or first grade based on a district’s free and reduced lunch count. Districts may use the following ways to meet these learners needs:
- Direct instructional services under assurance of mastery program,
- Remedial instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, or other content areas, or study skills to improve the achievement level of these learners
- Additional teachers and teacher aides,
- Provide a longer school day or week during regular school year or summer program,
- Comprehensive and ongoing staff development,
- Instructional materials/digital learning/technology appropriate for meeting the individual needs of these learners,
- Programs to reduce truancy, encourage completion of high school and provide a safe and secure learning environment,
- Bilingual programs, bicultural programs, and programs for English learners,
- All-day kindergarten,
- Early education programs for 4 year old’s and other outreach efforts designed to prepare children for kindergarten.
- Extended school day and extended school year programs,
- Substantial parent involvement in developing and implementing remedial education or intervention plans for a learner.
This is a significant revenue resource for many districts. However, to receive the revenue, parents must fill out free and reduced forms. The primary factor in how much a district receives in compensatory revenue is based on a formula that relies on a district’s free and reduced lunch count. Districts can have difficulty getting parents to fill out the forms for many reasons including that many parents don’t want districts to know how much money they make or that they are below the poverty line. Last year and this year, it was particularly difficult to get parents to fill out forms because all students received free meals, making it less likely that a parent would fill out the free and reduced forms. Compensatory revenue numbers are based off the previous year’s data, so district’s compensatory revenue for FY22 was determined by the free and reduced count from FY21. Many school districts last year experienced both a loss of students and lower free and reduced numbers because parents didn’t fill out the forms.
During the 2021 legislative session, the governor proposed $68 million towards the loss of basic skills revenue (compensatory), recognizing that districts lost a source of revenue, but it did not pass. The legislature was not able to secure funding for the loss of revenue that many schools had for the 2021-22 school year and into the future because of the pandemic. MREA has seen districts getting innovative on incentivizing parents to fill out the forms. Districts are starting to go door to door, give out t-shirts, waive fees, provide food and other incentives to get parents to fill out the forms.
Overall, we know that pupil counts as well as parents filing out free and reduced forms were down last year for many districts. In FY22 it is projected that 283 districts will be losing compensatory dollars while only 45 districts will be coming out ahead. It is projected that alltogether, Minnesota districts will lose over $62,000,000 in compensatory revenue.
MREA is currently advocating with the other education organization to try to get the basic skills revenue off the archaic and burdensome system of chasing parents down to fill out paperwork to receive this revenue stream. MREA will continue to advocate to find a solution legislatively or otherwise to fix this problem.