The House and Senate are each bringing finance and policy proposals that MREA supports to end of session negotiations. Here’s a snapshot of some of the provisions, organized by the issues outlined on MREA’s 2016 legislative platform:
The House tax cut package contains an Agricultural school bond credit of 50 percent. MREA is in strong support of this proposal.
The Senate supplemental E-12 budget proposal would index the current Debt Service Equalization formula, which is a good start to reforming this broken formula. The Senate is also bringing “Enhanced Debt Service Equalization” that would support consolidating districts.
Teacher Recruitment & Retention
There are numerous provisions coming to conference committee from all parties that would aid and assist schools and staff with the costs associated with becoming a licensed teacher in Minnesota.
The House has $1 million for student loan forgiveness for teachers. They also have $4.5 million in ‘future teacher grants’ that would be administered by the Office of Higher Education to support teacher candidates from underserved populations.
The House bill also provides $6 million in targeted staff development for Intermediate Districts and Coops providing Level 4 student programming.The Senate bill also provides $1.5 million in targeted staff development for Intermediate Districts and Coops providing Level 4 student programming.
The House bill includes $385,000 for Southwest State University to develop and online special education licensure program aimed at helping paraprofessionals attain licensure.
The Senate bill contains $100,000 for several MnSCU campuses to begin planning and developing an online early childhood license aimed at making it more convenient for candidates to attain the content credits needed for this license.
To address a seamless system of P-20 education the House bill would provide the Northwest Regional Partnership $3 million that could be spend over several years to reimburse concurrent enrollment teachers the tuition charged by Minnesota State University-Moorhead for attaining 18 content area graduate credits needed to meet the Higher Learning Commission’s enforcement of this mandate.
The Senate has $10 million in one-time funding for Teacher Development & Evaluation aid for non-QComp districts. The Senate bill would also lift the budget cap on Q Comp enrollment as an incentive to get the remaining non-Q Comp districts enrolled.
Broadband and Technology
The Senate is bringing forward $85 million for community broadband development. The Senate E-12 proposal would also fund $10 per student in every district one-time for Operating Capital expenditures.
The Senate is bringing the Governor’s pre-K proposal forward, which would provide a .6 formula weight to districts providing 510 hours of pre-K programming, free of charge, to four year olds.
The proposal is close to what MREA had asked for on our platform, but calls for more programming hours than we believe the .6 formula amount would provide for. Districts could provide 350 hours, but would be paid .41 of the formula.
The Senate bill has $18 million for next year for this proposal so districts would apply to MDE and those with higher levels of poverty would be given priority for these funds. This is an important provision and we will continue working with legislators and the administration on this proposal.
Other Funding Provisions
The House has a provision that would extend the metro area equity funding to all districts. At a statewide cost of about $7.7 million each year, the proposal would drive another $23 per pupil to most districts outside the 7-county metro area.
The House bill also has an additional $5 million next year to expand school-linked mental health grants. This program has been beneficial to many rural districts in covering expensive mental health services.
The House bill also has $900,000 for mobile manufacturing labs that would be available to districts in northwest Minnesota.
The Senate bill has $350,000 for a Career & Technology initiative for districts in southwest Minnesota.