March 2, 2007

/ 2 March 2007 / Parents United
March 2, 2007

March 2, 2007 Update — From Mary Cecconi, Executive Director

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If this is your first update from Parents United, welcome! Please let us know if you have questions or experience any problems with your mailings from us.

 

In This Issue

Stay up-to-the-minute on Minnesota and national education news: Bookmark our website’s News and Events page for easy access to the latest information.

 

Critical Moments

The February budget forecast was released February 28 and there were no surprises for anyone—it was essentially the same forecast as released in November. BUT—what is critical now is that once that budget forecast is released the leadership of the House and Senate determine targets. Targets are the amount of money each committee area will have to appropriate during this session.

Once those targets are set Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation all have to work within those parameters.  These targets will most likely be set during the next week.  This is a critical time for you to make you voices heard. Talk with your legislators as well as the Governor and tell them what you believe should have the greatest priorities during this biennium.

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The first priority of Parents United in this 2007 Legislative session is:

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Parents United is committed to quality public schools for all of our kids in Minnesota. While we understand the need for good public policy to get us there, we also understand the need for resources—MONEY—for schools to provide the necessary learning for our kids. We are committed to dependable, sustainable and sufficient funds for our schools so that they can provide the necessary learning for all children to meet the requirements set by federal, state and local entities.

This is why we support the efforts of PS Minnesota—an effort to provide a formula that is logically linked to the cost for student achievement.  We understand that this effort will be multi-year and believe that the first move by the legislature in 2007 should be to pay down the special education cross subsidy our schools are experiencing.  Cross subsidy exists because the federal government and now Minnesota are not paying what they have defined in statute. The state now only pays a portion of what they define in their statute and that portion is on a trajectory to decrease every year—so this problem is not going away; in fact it is going to increase unless something is done this year.  Many schools have tried to plug this hole with local levies and Parents United does not believe that is a long term solution.

This year alone, the cross subsidy in the state will cost school districts over $500 million. To put that in perspective: we would need to add $500 to the per pupil formula to make up for this short fall. I also believe that if the state tries to “fix this problem” with a percentage on the per pupil formula, it will be perceived as an increase (extra dollars) and not paying off an overdue bill. 

SO, Parents United believes the backbone of any funding effort for schools this year MUST include buying down the cross subsidy costs.   We understand that buying down the cross subsidy frees up a district’s general operating budget as well as being consistent with the attempts of P.S. Minnesota to link cost, resources and student achievement  

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Bills/Issues to Watch

Check out the new compilation of the education funding bills introduced this session! We have Brad Lundell, Executive Director of Schools for Equity in Education, to thank for this. I believe in passing along great information when I get it and this is a wonderful document that in one place gives you a feeling for how things are going! It is great to have friends! Just a tiny piece of information: if a bill is to progress into law, it is preferable that a companion bill be working its way through the other body.

  • S.F.  762 (Rummel-DFL-White Bear Lake) Companion HF 833 (Brown-DFL-Austin)
  • S.F. 1107 (Scheid-DFL-Brooklyn Park) Companion HF 786 (Hillstrom-DFL-Brooklyn Center)
  • S.F, 1230 Rummel-DFL-White Bear Lake) Companion H.F. 981 (Brown-DFL-Austin)
  • H.F. 1198 (Mariani-DFL- St. Paul) This is a bill Parents United has been waiting for 4 years to see. This bill lifts the cap imposed on English Language Learning dollars that was imposed during the 2003 legislative session. Current law allows for only 5 years of English Language Services to be paid for, even though we know that studies have shown that children need far more than that (at least 7-10 years) if they are to progress academically.  We are very grateful that this bill is being introduced this session.

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Federal Information 

Congresswoman Betty McCollum is pursuing legislation that “would require the Federal Government to fully fund No Child Left Behind before schools suffer penalties.” It is critical that we understand the ramifications this legislation will have on our schools. Check the link and consider contacting Congresswoman McCollum with your comments. She sits on the Education Committee and therefore is Minnesota’s connection with Federal legislation.

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This Week at the Capitol

If you want specific information about future hearings and all the info you need to visit, please check our site.

Senate Education
(Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00 to 5:30 p.m., Room 15 State Capitol)

  • S.F.  654 (Pappas-DFL-St Paul) World Languages Bill
  • S.F.  418 (Bonoff-DFL-Minnetonka) Financial Literacy Curriculum
  • S.F. 1223 (Torres Ray-DFL-Minneapolis) After School Learning Grant
  • S.F.  940 (Wiger-DFL-Maplewood) 10th – 12th Grade Science Assessments

Senate E-12 Education Budget Division
(Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 8:30 to 11:00 a.m., Room 112 Capitol)

  • S.F.  291 (Clark-DFL-St. Cloud) Early childhood and family education, school readiness, and head start programs funding increase
  • S.F.  274 (Saxhaug-DFL-Grand Rapids) Community hub planning and implementation grants; prekindergarten through grade 3 program grants; kindergarten development assessment expansion
  • S.F.  318 (Rummel-DFL-White Bear Lake) Early childhood developmental screening aid funding increase
  • S.F.  762 (Rummel-DFL-White Bear Lake) Special education program growth factors modification and appropriation increases
  • S.F.  627 (Pogemiller-DFL-Minneapolis) Special education litigation costs reporting requirements
  • S.F. 1107 (Scheid-DFL-Brooklyn Park) Special education program growth factors modification, excess cost program funding increase and intensive intervention revenue
  • S.F. 86 (Fischbach-R-Paynesville) Eden Valley Watkins environmental hazard remediation cost recovery grant appropriation
  • S.F. 388 (Skoe-DFL- Clearbrook) Clearbrook-Gonvick: health and safety revenue use authority
  • S.F. 661 (Skoe-DFL-Clearbrook) Red Lake; Security improvements appropriation
  • S.F. 355 (Wiger-DFL-Maplewood) School districts lease levy authority increase
  • S.F. 810 (Anderson, E-DFL-St. Paul) School districts alternative facilities plan energy efficiency improvement projects inclusion
  • S.F. 921 (Olseen-DFL-Harris) School districts debt service equalization revenue and aid, equalized debt service, health and safety, deferred maintenance and operating capital levies increase; debt service equalizing factor.
  • S.F.  652 (Scheid-DFL–Brooklyn Park) Special education programs funding modification
  • S.F.  437 (Olseen-DFL- Harris) School district special education tuition billing delay authorization

House E-12 Education
(Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 a.m., Basement Hearing Room, State Office Building)

  • HF302 (Peterson, S-DFL-New Hope) Early childhood and pre-kindergarten grant programs established and kindergarten developmental assessment expanded.
  • HF685 (Slawik-DFL- Maplewood) Preschool program and home visiting program for children diagnosed with mental illness or development delays funding provided.
  • HF976 (Slawik-DFL-Maplewood) After-school community learning grant program established.
  • HF170 has been removed from the agenda.
  • HF1057 (Urdahl-R-Grove City) New teachers induction program established relating to high-need subject areas and schools.
  • HF1184 (Peterson, S-DFL- New Hope) New teachers induction program established and money appropriated.
  • HF489 (Hilstrom-DFL- Brooklyn Center) Staff development funding authorized for school districts with schools not making adequate yearly progress.
  • HF810 (Swails-DFL-Woodbury) Gifted and talented licensure and continuing education requirements established for teachers and other staff and administrators.
  • HF412 (Peterson, S-DFL-New Hope) Professional teaching standards grant program established.
  • HF811 (Wardlow-R-Eagan) Mathematics and science professional development programs provided

House K-12 Finance Division
(Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:15 p.m., Room 10 of the State Office Building)

  • HF975 (Koenen-DFL-Clara City) Comprehensive school reform funding provided to replace reduced federal funds.
  • HF988 (Winkler-DFL-Golden Valley) Technology task force and grants established for schools, and school district technology plan developed.
  • HF1080 (Morgan-DFL-Burnsville) School district technology needs aid provided.
  • HF803 (Benson-DFL-Minnetonka) SMART Board (Interactive white board) pilot program funding provided in school districts throughout the state
  • HF987 (Davnie-DFL-Minneapolis) Contract alternative program students over the age of 21 authorized to receive instruction until graduation.
  • HF703 (Peterson, A-DFL-Appleton) School districts that have participated in the cooperative secondary facilities program authorized to levy for certain unfunded severance and retirement costs.
  • HF1324 (Heidgerken-R-Freeport) Levy authority authorized for unfunded severance and retirement costs faced by school districts that have participated in the cooperative secondary facilities program.
  • HF831 (Sailer-DFL-Park Rapids) Independent School District No. 2311, Clearbrook-Gonvick, authorized to use health and safety revenue to demolish a building.
  • HF1147 (Sailer-DFL-Park Rapids) Independent School District No. 38, Red Lake, security improvements funding provided, and money appropriated.
  • HF982 (Norton-DFL-Rochester) Independent School District No. 535, Rochester, property tax levy certification deadline date extended.
  • HF980 (Knuth-DFL-New Brighton) Referendum aid adjustment modified for open enrollment students.
  • HF319 (Kelliher-DFL-St. Paul) Regional library basic system support and multi-county, multi-type library systems funding provided; and money appropriated.
  • HF409 (Morrow-DFL-St. Peter) Library telecommunications aid and telecommunications/Internet access equity provided, and money appropriated.
  • HF762 (Mullery-DFL-Minneapolis) Library basic system support grants limitations modified.
  • HF112 (Lillie-DFL-Maplewood) School district ice arena levy authority increased

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New Resources at the Website

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Questions? Email mary@parentsunited.org
 
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
651-999-7391

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