Legislators are reviewing a bill that allots disparity aid for school districts with low property wealth in Minnesota. The bill would provide mostly exurban districts that have low general education revenue and property wealth per pupil with general education disparity aid allowance based on their adjusted net tax capacity per adjusted pupil unit. Some rural schools would qualify – those include Foley, Esko, Hawley, Royalton, Byron, and Virginia.
The House Finance Cmmittee laid the bill over for possible omnibus bill inclusion on Friday. Its companion, SF604, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.
Rep. Eric Lucero (R-Dayton), who sponsors HF983, said school districts that do not qualify for categorical aid would be helped by creation of the disparity aid formula.
“Increasingly, we are seeing a growing disparity gap for those districts that are largely in bedroom communities and have a lot of agricultural land. They don’t have a lot of industrial base, which creates a disproportionate tax base,” Lucero said.
School districts would qualify for such disparity aid in one of two ways: if the district’s adjusted net tax capacity per adjusted pupil unit is less than the value of the district at or immediately below the 20th percentile of districts, or if the district’s referendum market value per resident pupil unit is less than the value of the district at or immediately below the 20th percentile of districts.
The additional dollars would allow such schools to stretch their classroom dollars further and expand curricular opportunities that allow it to get closer on par with its neighboring districts.