The Minnesota Senate E-12 Committee focused on school safety and Special Education bills this past week while the House education committees revisited the Labor Day start requirement and look at funding school breakfast and after-school programs.

Here’s a look at the key issues and bills discussed. Scroll down to get a full at-a-glance view of the bills presented.

School Safety

Near the anniversary of the Parkland school shootings, the Senate E-12 Committee dove into several bills aimed at improving school safety. The committee discussion revolved around how to make more services available to students in order to improve safety. A bill to provide suicide prevention grants was discussed.

The Committee reviewed Chair Carla Nelson’s bill on school safety.  SF 7, as amended in committee, would allocate $33.3 million in FY20 and 37 million in FY21 to safe schools aid. Another amendment was added to SF 7 that would require school floor plans to be accessible to local law enforcement.

Many of these issues were thoroughly vetted in 2018 and were included in the supplemental budget bill that was vetoed by then Gov. Mark Dayton.

Special Education

Building off of several interim hearings on special education reform, the Senate E-12 committee debated legislation aimed at reducing paperwork. Many thanks go toNew Ulm Superintendent Jeff Bertrang and others for their leadership and testimony on these reform measures. Collectively, they hammered home the point that special education teachers need more time with kids and less time on paperwork and other administrative duties.

Still, some parent advocacy groups are resisting change. They contend that Minnesota is a model for the nation in the terms of special education service and we shouldn’t be reducing our standards. The parents are correct that Minnesota is a leader in special education.

But the bureaucratic nature that has taken over special education is driving the best teachers out of the business.

It’s been documented that special education teachers are only able to serve kids about 55 percent of their time compared to 75-80 percent for a normal classroom teacher.

Accountability to kids and families in special education services is necessary and shouldn’t be eliminated. However, reform measures are long overdue in order to better serve special needs kids more effectively.

Student Support

The House Education Finance Committee looked at three bills last week that would address needs of kids. A ‘breakfast after the bell’ bill was heard, HF 1037. The bill would provide state funding to schools with more than 33 percent Free & Reduced (FRE) students to cover the difference between federal breakfast reimbursements in order to serve all kids free breakfast. Advocates for the bill want more ‘grab and go’ options for kids whose busses don’t arrive until just before class starts.

A bill to fund more high quality after-school programs was considered. Modeled after the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center program, HF 907 would provide $12 million a year to cover the school-community collaborations that applied for federal funding, but didn’t receive it due to limited funds. A bill to provide $15 million for Full Service Community Schools was also reviewed last week.

The House Education Policy Committee took up a bill to allow schools to start before Labor Day. This is a frequent source of discussion at the Capitol, but rare is there relief on the school start date. The tourism industry, resort owners and the State Fair continue to oppose the bill.


Senate Bills Heard Feb. 11, 2019 in Senate E-12 Education Finance and Policy
Senate Bill  Chief Author House Bill  Chief Author Description
S.F. 7 Nelson
No House Companion Safe schools program revenue increase and appropriation
S.F. 734 Nelson
HF 813  Richardson  Teacher suicide prevention training and appropriation
S.F. 247 Pratt
HF 575  Huot  Unclaimed drugs and medications in schools disposal authorization
S.F. 389 Pratt
HF 431  Albright  Alternative fire drills for schools and educational institutions requirement.
S.F. 580 Eichorn
HF 1231  Persell Nonpublic pupil aid calculation modification and appropriation
S.F. 177 Bigham
HF 566  Wazlawik  School safety assessment teams requirement and appropriation

View Video of Hearing


Senate Bills Heard February 13, 2019 in Senate E-12 Education Finance and Policy
Senate Bill  Chief Author House Bill  Chief Author Description
S.F. 482  Pratt Not Yet Introduced Individualized education program (IEP) requirements to permit reporting of student performance on assessments modification.
S.F. 749  Dahms HF 854  Torkelson


Education alternative dispute resolution and due process hearings conciliation conference repeal.
S.F. 244  Anderson, P HF 1005  Pryor


School conciliation conference requirements for individualized education program team modification.
S.F. 640  Utke Not Yet Introduced Disabled students individualized education plans transition from secondary to postsecondary services grade 9 planning requirement elimination.
S.F. 717  Dahms HF 853  Torkelson


Disabled students individualized education plan (IEP) functional behavior assessment authorization.
S.F. 159  Clausen Not Yet Introduced Individualized education program requirements modification.
sc4736-3 (PDF)

Rationale for SLD_MTSS Bill (PDF)

Not Yet Introduced Draft language for consideration related to: amending rules on specific learning disability and establishing a Minnesota Multi-Tiered System of Support Center.

Listen to Hearing  MP3 Audio

Hearings on these bills in the House Education Policy Committee is scheduled for  on Feb. 25.