Conference Committee Kicks Off. The House had the gavel and so set the agenda for the first day of the 2022 education finance and policy conference committee. The House version of HF 4300 has a number of provisions aimed at better meeting the mental health needs of students and staff. There were a number of witnesses who outlined the problem–and stressed that mental health needs were in place prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic–and made the point that the state is in the financial to address a number of these concerns.
Some of the initiatives addressing mental health in the House bill include:
- Revenue for districts to hire student support personnel (school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, and school counselors).
- Social workers for early childhood education settings.
- Opt-in mental health screening.
- Revenue for Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.
The conference committee is scheduled to meet every morning between 9 AM and 11 AM. The Senate will have the gavel tomorrow and initial indications are that there will be a discussion of the various proposals in each bill. The Senate bill, as described yesterday, focuses solely on efforts to increase student literacy in the area of reading, but the House has a broad range of funding and policy proposals. It is hoped that the entirety of both bills can be covered tomorrow. We are also likely to hear more about the Senate’s commitment to literacy as evidenced by their $30 million appropriation for the Learning Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) professional development program.
Special Education Press Conference Nets Coverage. The press conference devoted to the importance of reducing the special education cross-subsidy was held Monday afternoon and it received attention in the press. The four particpants in the press conference outlining the need to fully fund special education included Rochester school board member and PTA Advocate Cathy Nathan, Dover-Eyota parent Tyrel Clark, Albert Lea Superintendent Mike Funk, and St. Paul superintendent Joe Gothard.
KARE 11 carried a story on their 6 PM broadcast this evening, but I am unable to find it to post. Here is KARE 11 reporter John Croman’s tweet on the event: Croman Tweet on Special Education Press Conference