The SEE school levies tax relief and reform bill is here! Following is what HF3224 does.
- Significantly lowers property taxes and makes future school levies more affordable in lower-property wealth school districts by increasing equalization. The impacted school levies are the voter-approved referendum, the board-approved location optional revenue (LOR), and debt-service (for building bonds).
- Prevents the erosion of the school levies property tax relief by indexing the formulas to inflation.
- Increases the cap on LOR by $101, raising it from $724 to $825 per pupil for the next school year, and then increases the LOR revenue by the same percentage as increases to the basic formula.
- Increases long-term facility maintenance (LTFM) by $120 to $500 per student next year and then links the funding to inflation after that. LTFM equalization is already highly equalized and linked to inflation.
See the additional provisions here on the SEE website. I will also post the unofficial estimates of the property tax relief by school district on Monday and other information as it becomes available.
The Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee received an update on the LETRS literacy pilot program at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). LETRS trains teachers in the science of reading, defined as direct, explicit, systematic phonics. In Minnesota, third-grade reading scores continue to decline, yet 10th-grade student reading scores are steady. We can’t afford to have any student not reading, and studies have shown that if a student is not proficient by third grade, they are over 80% more likely to drop out of high school. LETRS literacy training is intensive, requiring teachers to complete 140 hours of training over two years at a graduate-level type course. However, our students deserve better, and the program’s success is impressive!
Chair Roger Chamberlain laid out his literacy proposal, indicating it as his top priority for this session.
- SF2872 (Chamberlain-R) funds for LETRS training for every teacher in grades K-5 is not a mandate but a resource. The legislation provides $33 million in grant funding, and I am unsure how many K-5 teachers this covers.
- Expands support staff, with the proper background in the science of reading, at the MDE Regional Centers around the state.
- SF3057 (Chamberlain-R) requires school districts to adopt a comprehensive plan to meet the goal of having 90% of their third-grade students in all demographics proficient in reading by the end of the 2028-29 school year and temporarily suspends the requirements in the World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) during this time.
The Senate did not hear the bills mentioned yet.
The House Education Finance Committee addressed two glaring cross subsidies – the unfunded cost of providing mandated services. Chair Jim Davnie (Minneapolis-DFL) expressed that the $7.7 billion state surplus makes it hard to say the state can’t afford to fund these underfunded mandates.
- HF2944 (Her-DFL) looks at the English-language (EL) cross subsidy. Minnesota demographics have shifted, and more EL learners are entering our schools. EL students as assets for our state. With baby boomers retiring and the growing workforce shortage, the state must invest in EL students so they can aspire for jobs that will support their families and allow them to become productive citizens. See the increased funding provided for each district. / Read more.
- HF2657 (Wolgamott-DFL) fully funds the special education cross subsidy Schools do a great job of helping our special education students to reach their full potential. Yet, the growing cross subsidy forces districts to cut valuable programming or pass a referendum. It’s time for the state to pay rather than transfer that burden to our students and local taxpayers. Also, there is tension between school districts where a special education student lives and the school district or charter schools where the student is attending. The resident districts pay 80% f the cost but have little say in the students’ programming. HF2751 (Youakim-DFL) establishes a working group to examine these billing practices and recommend improvements to the legislature. See the current special education cross subsidy for each district. Read more.
The House Education Finance Committee laid all the bills on the table for possible inclusion in a future education omnibus bill.
The House Education Policy Committee addressed several bills including:
- HF2950 (Hasson-DFL) was sent to the House floor for a vote. Most of the bill deals with a short-term substitute pilot program. Currently, schools are experiencing chronic shortages of substitutes and need long-term solutions to fix the problem. However, the legislation appears to add more hurdles and uncertainties. Read more.
- HF3079 (Hassan-DFL) is the Teacher of Color Act. The House and Senate agree that it is important to increase the diversity of teachers but differ on how far to go. Read more.
For more information, the link in the blue bill summary box at the top indicates which other bills were heard in committee.
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!
Director of Communications and Community Outreach