The House Omnibus Education Bill HF 4328 passed out of the Education Finance and Tax committees with four mandates pared back and two new ones added.

This in in part thanks to the evidence provided by 72 MREA superintendents who responded to MREA’s survey on the cost and impact of the mandates. Upon learning that six mandates would cost about $65 per pupil to implement, lawmakers made the following changes to the new proposed mandates:

  • Health Standards
    The locally developed health standards may include instruction on child sexual abuse, exploitation, sexual assault prevention instruction in a health curriculum, and substance misuse prevention. The Commissioner of Education is to survey school districts in the ’21-22 school year on their implementation of instruction consistent with this section and report to the legislature. (Article 3, Section 4)
  • Dyslexia screening
    Dyslexia screening is required in grades K, 1 and 2 for students not reading at grade level and for students in grade 3 and above demonstrating reading difficulty. (Article 3, Section 11)
  • Technology
    The technology requirements for providers and school districts were significantly pared back. (Article 6, Sections 4 and 5)
  • Activity Fees
    School districts may still charge fees for certain activities as outlined in 36 and limit participation to students who have paid those fees. Districts will be prohibited from limiting a student’s participation in school activities, including graduation ceremonies based on unpaid student meal balances.

However, as the bill worked its way through the House Ed Finance Committee, lawmakers added these two new mandates:

  • Threat Assessment
    Each school is to have a threat assessment team. Superintendents will be required to establish these teams and a committee to oversee them. (Article 2, Section 7) $300,000 is included for threat assessment team training.  (Article 2, Section 17)
  • Ongoing Background Checks
    School hiring authorities must request a criminal background check every five years of all employees (Article 7, Section 13) and PELSB must do the same for any applicant for re-licensure who has not had a criminal background check within the previous five years (Article 7, Section 6)

Read a summary of HF 4328 and the proposed mandates.

Policy Changes

There’s a pile of education policy proposals in the House supplemental education bill.

The Senate’s supplemental education bill includes a proposal to require school districts to adopt ‘academic balance’ policies. This is a policy initiative birthed from a culture war dust up in Edina schools last fall. For the most part, the Senate kept their education policy proposal in a separate bill that Education Policy Chair Sen. Eric Pratt is carrying.

Which conference committee the education policy proposals will be negotiated remains to be seen. The Governor once again wants all policy stripped from the supplemental budget bill.

His commissioners are flagging ‘poison pill’ language riddled throughout the various supplemental budget bills moving forward in the legislature. Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius flagged a summative rating system (Senate: 5 stars, House: 0-100 points) that the GOP majorities are advancing and the academic balance proposal moving in the Senate.

Raise Your Voice

If you have concerns over these mandates, or prefer one body’s version over the other, it is important that you let your legislators know impact a mandate would have in your schools. It helps to reference HF 4328 and SF 3086 as well as the specific article and section number when you do so. Find your legislator.