There are many bills in front of the Senate and House that are asking for more funding, better funding, permission for new funding, etc. for K-12 education. While I cannot discuss them all in this blog there are few that tie well to the recent discussion in class.
H.F. 2261 is a bill that will adjust the burden of proof in special education due process hearing. As we discussed in class the unfunded mandate placed on the states by the federal government to pay for special education has placed another financial burden on many school districts. In this bill the effort is to take the burden of proof off the state, in the case that they did not offer correct care for the special needs student, and place it on the parent. While this seems difficult to swallow it is necessary for schools to have some protection from the additional costs of defense. However, the political feasibility of such a bill is low and it is unlikely to pass.
H.F. 2239 is a bill that will increase the general education revenue by $51 dollars per pupil, increase the state reimbursement for school lunch from 12 to 18 cents per meal, eliminate the integration revenue, and repeal the school desegregation rule. The first two areas are pretty clear; a request for more funds. The elimination of the integration revenue and the school desegregation rule are much more political. Integration revenue is money that must be used to create or enhance interracial contacts through classroom experience, staff initiatives, and other educational related programs. This money can be significant; an additional $206-$445 per pupil per year. It is a rule that is attached to funding in order to encourage its adoption by schools. It is not a mandate but instead encouraged through a financial incentive. Again, this bill has little political feasibility and is unlike to pass.
Two more bills of interest and with more political feasibility are H.F. 2230 which would increase funding to low referendum districts and H.F. 1355 which would authorize a levy for certain hazardous pupil transportation services. Both bills are also equitable as 2230 ask for more funds for those schools earning less than the state average per pupil and 1355 ask for funds for those students who live within two miles of the school but are in hazardous walking environments. While these both may be political feasible and equitable (offering schools equal funding for equal service; and children equal opportunity to get to school safely) in the current economy it is unlikely funding will be raised on a state level. This means that 1355 has a much better chance of passing but does not ensure passage for either.
As I mentioned before, there are many finance education bills at the Capitol this year. While the one’s I have listed are unlikely to pass it is interested insight into the education discussions that are currently taking place in MN. It also exemplifies some of the solutions being presented.