I’m Back. I hope I’m able to over more than the meager offering I posted last night and get everyone caught up on committee action and the bill introductions from Monday and today (Wednesday). One of the more interesting–and well-attended hearings–on Tuesday was the House Education Policy Committee, which took up the Governor’s policy bill. There are sections in that bill that require parents of home school students to report several things to the Minnesota Department of Education. The home school community is very interesting and far more wide-ranging in their approaches than many think, but one area where all practitioners are fairly consistent is protection of their rights against infringement. Needless to say, hundreds of home schoolers (students and their parents) were in and around the hearing room making their opposition known (very politely I might add).
A bill that was heard yesterday in the House Education Finance Committee–HF 877–would update the transportation sparsity formula. The total cost of the bill is $12.4 million, but a number of districts for whom the current transportation sparsity formula is not sufficient to meet their needs, it would provide a welcome influx of revenue. This problem has been building since 1995 when a basic transportation amount was folded into the general education basic amount with an adjustment for transportation sparsity added for those districts with higher-than-average costs. The problem–as is the case with a variety of formulas–is that the formula was never updated to reflect changes in enrollments and development patterns within districts. For a number of outer-ring and exurban districts, significant housing developments have been built far away from where the school buildings are (schools were built first and they can’t be moved), which has also contributed to higher costs. Here is a data run to the bill: HF 877 Aid Amounts.
A bill that is getting traction this year is a grant to the Building Assests Achieving Results (BARR) program. The bill would appropriate $7.65 million to the center to implement their programs in 30 schools. The money would be spread over 4 years. The Governor has a smaller appropriation in his budget recommendations.
Today, the House Education Finance Committee heard the Governor’s recommendation to move a number of duties currently housed in either the Minnesota Department of Education or the Minnesota Department of Human Services and relocate them to a newly-established Minnesota Department of Children, Youth, and Families. This is slightly reminiscent of the changes made during the Carlson Administration thirty years ago that created the Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning. That framework was dismantled during the Pawlenty Administration, with the department reverting to the Minnesota Department of Education with a number of health and human service related duties being farmed back to those agencies. There has been some pushback, but that is to be expected with as comprehensive a proposal as this one.
House (Monday, February 6)
It’s interesting that the first bill listed in the introductions for the day was Operating Levy Equalization and the last was Debt Service Equalization. Nice bookends!
Senate (Monday, February 6)
House (Wednesday, February 8)
Senate (Wednesday, February 8)