Two bills related to the general education funding formula and one related to compensatory revenue were all laid over for possible inclusion in the Senate E12 omnibus bill.
- SF163, sponsored by Sen. John Hoffman (DFL – Champlin), would increase school district basic revenue formula allowance to $6,131 starting in fiscal year 2016.
- SF541, sponsored by Sen. Greg Clausen (DFL – Apple Valley), would increase the general education levy by 4 percent each year over the next biennium and the tie it to inflation each year after that.
- SF558 sponsored by Sen. Melissa Wiklund (DFL – Bloomington) would allow school districts to use up to 50 percent of compensatory revenue on other needed purposes a district may have, rather than up to 5 percent currently allowed.
Earlier in the week, Senate Republicans announced a plan to give schools $445 million in unobligated funding over the next two years. That amount is similar to putting “3&3” on the formula, but the funding would be unlinked from the current formula allowance. Therefore, it wouldn’t drive the other student categorical aids like compensatory, sparsity and others along with it.
What it Means
The proposal also comes with no strings attached, which makes it look attractive on the surface. When looked at more closely, the proposal tilts heavily toward large suburban districts that have the largest student body.
The plan doesn’t address the current funding inequities that MREA is working to get addressed this session. Rural students can be better served with a mix of formula, targeted funding like TDE and Long Term Facility Maintenance, and school property tax equalization.
District officials have been concerned with the Governor’s proposed “1&1” on the formula. With the new forecasted surplus and growing pressure inside the legislature to do more for the basic allowance, it’s looking more likely that the basic formula will come out better at the end of May that it initially looking at the end of January. We have a lot of work to do to make that happen.