In the House …
The House Education Innovation Policy Committee revisited the compulsory school attendance age Thursday. Rep. Carlos Mariani’s bill (HF 15) would increase the mandatory school age to 18.
MSBA reminded the committee that the compulsory school attendance age was just increased from 16 to 17 in 2013 — effective for the 2014-15 school year. This was a compromise position, which we have not had enough time to gather information in regards to the results.
MSBA suggested that after a longer period of evaluation of the current requirement, that high school principals bring forth recommendations before the Legislature in regards to mandating age of compulsory education.
This bill was laid over in the committee for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill.
The committee also began a discussion on the universal all-day preschool for four-year-olds proposal (HF 46, authored by Rep. Erin Murphy). They heard testimony from administration and teachers in districts that already implement some level of pre-K programing in support of extending the program to all day. The opposition to this legislation comes from groups that want to target state education funds toward the most at-risk kids as well as child care providers. The proposal is set for continued discussion next week.
The House Education Finance Committee took a look at four bills Thursday.
HF 175 (authored by Rep. Eric Lucero) would modify equity formulas. This proposal would expand the definition of the metro equity region to be able to provide a 25 percent equity revenue increase to school districts that are located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Areas as delineated in 2009 by the U.S. Census Bureau. This would increase qualifying school districts for metro equity aid from 48 to 83; these districts are located in Chisago, Isanti, Sherburne and Wright counties.
The supporters of this bill are concerned about the inequity in education funding. Their message to the committee they do not receive metro area funding yet their community expects the metro programs like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate that their neighbors are able to provide.
HF 663 (Rep. Dave Baker) would expand additional equity revenue to all school districts. This would mean all school districts would see a 25 percent increase in equity revenue that is currently available to metro area school districts.
This bill’s supporters are interested in putting the “One Minnesota” message into action. This proposal does not solve their funding shortfalls for the next biennium, but it will help.
HF 583 (Rep. Ron Kresha) would provide aid to regional library telecommunications and funding in equity in telecommunications access. The bill would increase the annual school telecommunications aid from $3.75 million to $9.75 million, and increase annual regional library telecommunications aid by $1 million to $3.3 million.
MSBA’s lobbyists lended their support by stating, “The timing of this bill could not be better. This is right on the heels of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voting to increase the E-Rate Program (the government’s largest educational technology program) by $1.5 billion annually for the next five years in order to help U.S. schools and libraries improve Internet access.”
HF 569 (Rep. Bud Nornes) would provide funding for regional library basic system support and multicounty, multitype library systems. This proposal would increase the annual basic aid for regional public libraries from $13.57 million to $18.75 million; and increase the annual multicounty, multitype library aid from $1.3 million to $2.6 million. Testifiers reminded the committee that libraries are the place in our communities where learning takes place in many forms.
All these bills were laid over for possible inclusion in an education omnibus bill.
In the Senate …
The Senate Education Committee on Thursday dissected Gov. Mark Dayton’s education budget proposal for pre-K through 12th-grade. Dayton’s education proposal in the bill form (SF 811, introduced by Sen. Chuck Wiger) calls for a $373 million increase in spending over the next biennium. The main focus of discussion was on the all-day, voluntary pre-kindergarten proposal that would require the reallocation of dollars that are currently spent on school readiness.
The unspoken characteristics of this bill are summer hours, additional building space required, special education costs, licensed teachers only, and transportation costs while the local school district must match the state funding.
While MSBA supports school readiness programs, the details of this bill deserve some debate over the next few weeks of the legislative session.