Earlier this summer, Governor Walz announced that $29 million in Federal COVID relief revenue would be distributed to school districts throughout the state to partially address the drop in student counts during the 2020-2021 school year. The count in terms of student loss has finally been verified and the revenue will be distributed through an informal adjustment in the declining pupil formula.
This is certainly a funding boost and it looked at several junctures that a funding adjustment wouldn’t take place. Bills to provide some adjustment were introduced during the special sessions that took place in the fall of 2020 and language was included in several bills–including the Governor’s “summer” bill–discussed during the regular session. As the session progressed, more attention was paid to what I would term “forward” funding that was largely divorced from the changes in attendance and service delivery resulting from the pandemic.
It’s important to remember that the three Federal aid packages passed since the onset of the pandemic did provide considerable financial support to school districts, but as has been shown, the distribution of that revenue was very uneven throughout the state and in more than a few instances did not cover the additional costs incurred by districts as they reacted to changing circumstances. The link below shows what each district will receive as a result of the Governor’s action.
MDE Federal Relief Page (Scroll Down to Allocation for Enrollment Loss Support–10/4/21 under Federal Relief Funding Resources Subheading in Bold)
This adjustment does look backward and it is a needed first step. The second necessary step is to mitigate the loss in compensatory revenue resulting from parents not filling out the required forms to qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch. This is largely due to meals being made free for all students. Because no paperwork was required, it was not submitted and, as a result, the student count necessary to establish a count for the calculation of districts’ compensatory revenue was greatly reduced. This has caused problems statewide and if the Legislature does return to funding discussions in 2022, this is one area that deserves considerable attention.
October is National Economics Education Month. It has become increasingly important for students to understand how the American and international economies work. Our good friends at the Minnesota Council on Economic Education (MCEE) provide quality professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers to help teachers implement the state’s economic and personal finance learning standards. These standards are embedded beginning in elementary school and so few teachers have an extensive background in economics. MCEE provides a variety of teacher-friendly programs at low or no cost to help teachers deliver the standards with confidence and fidelity. In addition, MCEE sponsors student competitions. For more information, follow the link below.