Hectic Pace Continues. Wednesdays are always wall-to-wall in the education-related committee department and with the addition of a Wednesday floor session to process bill introductions, the day becomes even busier. Reports from committees:
Senate Education Finance Committee: The committee reviewed the Governor’s budget recommendations. There were no changes in either approach or content from the presentation made to the House Education Finance Committee last week.
House Education Finance Committee: The committee heard two bills: HF 22, Representative Kaoly Her’s bill that would increase funding for English language instruction. Owatonna superintendent Jeff Elstad testified on behalf of rural superintendents that are witnessing a considerable increase in the number of non-English speaking students and the number of non-English languages that are coming into their school systems. The EL issue is often viewed as a predominantly urban issue, but that is no longer the case and an increase in funding for these services is warranted. The committee also heard Representative Kaela Berg’s HF 8, which would create a new revenue stream to hire support personnel in the categories of school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, school guidance counselors, and school chemical dependency counselors. This initiative has been around for several years and this time around it is being presented as an on-going revenue stream instead of a grant program. Language was also added to the bill that would allow districts to raise a current employee that is less than 1.0 FTE to a higher amount and also retain a position of an individual hired with revenue from the American Rescue Plan.
Senate Education Policy Committee. The committee heard two bills. The first would create two positions in the Minnesota Department of Education to serve as leads in the area of mental health. The second would strengthen and expand the Teachers of Color Act. Discussion became a bit spirited during discussion of the Teachers of Color Act, not over the substance of the bill, but the approach used to sell the concept.
House Education Policy Committee. The committee heard three bills. The bill that received the most attention was Representative Cheryl Youakim’s bill that would require school districts to provide training to paraprofessionals. Districts are likely already providing this training and there is funding to school districts to cover the costs of the training. The two other bills dealt with (1) allowing students to earn elective credit for working with a health care provider, and (2) allowing districts to negotiate transportation contracts with private schools.
House–Links Not Working So I Will Add Tomorrow