Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a bipartisan education bill last week that would have closed much of the books on the 2015 Legislative Session.
By doing that, however, he’s left open a crack – one that a group of St. Michael-Albertville area school supporters are hoping can lead to more change when it comes to school funding.
While Dayton is holding out for universal Pre-K funding – adding to existing programming to get education in front of 4 and 5-year-olds around the state – both parties in the Minnesota Legislature have also looked to pump more money into the education system.
The St. Michael-Albertville Equity for Excellence group released this letter today, asking parents to make more more attempt at contacting legislators and ask for more equitable education funding.
“STMA families and supporters, please see the following information from Schools for Equity in Education regarding school funding for 2015-16 and 2016-17. Your input is still needed and can still be a benefit to our students and our district.
The session ended in a chaotic frenzy following the crafting of a $400 million education omnibus bill in the conference committee based upon agreement between Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt. The governor has since vetoed the education bill because he felt it did not invest enough in E-12 education, particularly in prekindergarten.
Key provisions that came out of conference committee and greatly benefit STMA include:
- A 1.5% increase to the basic formula for 2015-16 and a 2% increase for 2016-17.
- Creation of a long-term maintenance levy so all districts have access to funding to maintain its school facilities.
- Increase in school readiness funding for school districts to provide preschool to more at-risk 4-year-olds.
Speaker of the House Daudt, Majority Leader Bakk and Governor Dayton will be meeting on Tuesday to negotiate an education funding bill for a special session to be held early in June. It is uncertain what will be included in the bill; however, it is expected that the education budget target will be greater than $400 and the bill will included provisions that the governor specified as mandatory.
What can you do?
Email leadership and your legislators. They need to hear from you. From STMA’s point of view it will be a good education bill if they:
- Increase the basic formula by 2% each year.
- Include the creation of a long-term maintenance levy and the funding level that was in the vetoed bill
- Invest more in existing School Readiness programs to build capacity for 4-year-old preschool and, more importantly, so that all vulnerable children have access to a quality early learning program that prepares them for kindergarten that was in the vetoed bill.
In addition, encourage legislators to extend the 25% increase in equity revenue that has applied to only the seven metro county area to all school districts in Minnesota. This was not in the vetoed bill but new provisions will be added to the special session bill and we need to continue to advocate for equity revenue. This measure costs a relatively modest $2.5 million but helps to level the playing field in Minnesota’s vastly uneven school funding system.
Thanks for speaking up one more time…”