Note:  These responses were crafted in response to the HF 630 delete all omnibus bills moved by Committee Chairs Representative Marquart.  MREA made every attempt to track all the amendments, but this may not be all inclusive. You can track this bill online, but ignore the introductory version from February.

MREA supports the direction and the implementation particulars of the following aspects of HF 630:

  • All Day K begins in FY15 at 1.0 PU weight—Excellent, universal all day K is in MREA Platform
    • Significant goal
    • Significant investment
    • Still local decision to offer free full day every day kindergarten
  • Formula gets 2% and 2%
  • Equity Revenue change
    • Directly addresses the 5th –95th gap with Enhanced Equity Revenue,
    • Equity Revenue is state aid in FY ’14 for up to $300 per pupil minus current operating referendum allowance,
    • In FY ’15 establishes an Equity Levy for Equity Revenue equalized at 1st Tier as a permissible school board levy up to same amount of revenue per pupil as in FY ‘14
    • Establishes Equity Revenue at 1.25% for metro school districts–$400 View these districts
  • Referendum Equalization
    • Creates Referendum Market Value Equalization Factor (RMVEF)
    • RMVEF will float with state total RMV value and state total PU’s so it maintains somewhat close to current tax effort adjusting for changes in property value and student population
    • RMVEF estimated to be = $431,150.
    • 1st Tier estimated to be $526,000, an 11% increase in the equalization factor
    • 2nd Tier estimated to be $284,560, a 5% increase in the factor. View a map showing the impact of HF 630 on homeowners.
  • HF 247 on Integration & Achievement revenue included in the bill—well thought out
    • Uses the work of the Task Force,
    • Directs funds to districts with high populations of color, focus on achievement,
    • Establishes floor funding at 70%for districts in the program
    • Reduces a district’s revenue by 5% if it does not meet its achievement goals
  • Operating Referenda calculation change—
    • Seems minor change affecting only equalization aid which are state funds.
  • Cyrus and Morris school district consolidation—Excellent
    • Permits two districts to orderly consolidate with local decision making
    • With local investment to safely demolish an aging, unneeded facility
  • Academic year—Excellent
    • Freeing schools to educate students in August
    • Adjust with 2 days off before Labor Day
  • Assessment Reform—Excellent
    • Moves to a system that looks forward to where students are going, rather than where they have been,
    • Does not put any artificial barriers in their career pathway.  Read more
  • MTLE Reform—
    • Allows teachers who successfully complete an approved licensing program to begin teaching with temporary licenses while taking the MTLE tests
    • Presumably temporary licenses will apply to teachers coming from other states?
    • Puts the hiring at the appropriate level,
    • Allows districts to maintain a teacher at their request who has not passed the MTLE tests
    • Teacher with only a temporary license is limited to teaching in that hiring district
  • School Climate Center
  • School Lunch
    • $.01 increase in state aid per lunch is helpful

MREA supports the direction but urges further refinement of the implementation of the following aspects of HF 630

  • Early Ed Scholarships $50 million:
    •  This is important need to be addressed.
    • The March 15th and April 15th deadlines are very important for schools and providers in order to build capacity for quality early childhood.
    • That capacity development is undone by line paragraph (c) line 143.35: “A scholarship recipient may choose any available program and is not required to enroll in a program with a predetermined number of slots.”
    • We believe there needs to be a May 1 deadline for the recipient to commit to a provider so the provider knows they have students for the fall and can staff with confidence.
  • Minnesota’s World Class Work Force and Regional Centers of Excellence:
    • The state has an over-riding interest in defining the outcomes of the state’s education system as stated in this section,
    • It makes great sense to follow the model of many other states in utilizing regional centers to provide technical support and professional development to schools within that region with state support for that purpose as described in the Regional Centers of Excellence,
    • Taking an initiative like this to state-wide scale needs careful planning.
    • Goals should be SMART:  Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.
      The goals stated in Subd 1 at 100% are admirable, but not achievable.  The education community has learned this since 2001. MREA suggests using the goal of Minnesota’s NCLB waiver to “reduce the achievement gap in six years” at grade 3, graduation and college readiness.  These have a chance of being achievable.
    • Subd 2:  School District Planning requirements are very detailed.  It sounds very similar to the school improvement plans under NCLB which became very bureaucratic with mandated state forms, and ended with mixed results.  It is very hard to make planning simple.  This language needs work.
    • Subd 5: Evaluation envisions a means for the state to hold school districts accountable for delivering the student outcomes specified by the state by withholding up to 4% of state aid and directing schools failing to meet goals to implement a turnaround model.
      Other states such as Iowa, have standards for accreditation of school districts. For example, see Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 12 Rule: General Accreditation Standards for School Districts and Accredited Nonpublic Schools, which are public standards. The IDE examines each district once every five years and can take accreditation, funding and other steps should districts not meet accreditation standards.  Other states use the Ed Advance (formerly North Central Accreditation) for the same purpose. Minnesota has nothing like this.
    • MREA is not opposed to moving in this direction, but not without through discussion with stakeholders, the development of clear standards for accreditation, and a mechanism which generates accurate measurements of performance.  None of which occurred the last time MDE engaged in the “turn around” model with rural secondary SIG schools.  MDE does not have a good track record in this area.
    • What is not included in this section is a national and international literature and research review at the state level to discover those educational programs and processes which deliver these outcomes at a higher and more consistent rate than we are doing in Minnesota.  Presumably the results of this research would be used by school districts and the Regional Centers of Excellence.
    • MREA would recommend:
      • Use some of FY ’14 funding level for the regional cooperatives planning in FY ’14 to prepare and be staffed for the summer of 2014, and
      • Use some of FY ’14 funding for a task force to bring back to the 2014 legislature the goal specification, district planning processes, and districts standards for achieving accreditation(or proficiency), consequences for a district failing to achieve accreditation(or proficiency),  a list of well researched programs, processes, best practices that when implemented would deliver higher outcomes.
      • Allow the rollover of unused funds from FY ’14 into FY ’15 to accelerate the development of the Regional Centers of Excellence in FY ‘15
      • Then the capacity and the goals, standards and planning would all come together in an orderly manner for the 14-15 school year.
  • Safe Schools levy increased from $30/pupil to $35/pupil is woefully inadequate for the need.

What’s happening in the Senate?

View the details of the Senate Omnibus Bills and MREA’s response.