Minnesota’s integration aid is distributed directly to districts via the per-pupil education formula, 70 percent coming from state aid and 30 percent from local levies. Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth public school districts receive the most integration aid. During the 2010-12 school year, 125 districts were required to develop school integration plans and were eligible for integration aid. The amount of aid each district receives varies by district. For fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the per-pupil integration revenue aid was $480 for Minneapolis, $445 for St. Paul, $206 for Duluth, $129 for eligible districts with more than 15 percent students of color, and $92 for all other eligible districts.
In 2005, the Office of the Legislative Auditor authored a report evaluating the state’s Integration Revenue program. In that evaluation, the OLA found that the program’s objectives were unclear to districts and that some districts used the aid in questionable ways. The report also found that the Minnesota Department of Education did not provide proper oversight of the program and how integration aid was spent. Since then, the Integration Revenue program has remained a somewhat political issue in the Minnesota legislature. This was especially true last year.
In 2011, the legislature passed a law that would eliminate the integration aid portion of the current funding formula for years after fiscal year 2013. At the same time, the legislature established a 12-member Integration Revenue Replacement Advisory Task Force to “develop recommendations for repurposing integration revenue funds to create and sustain opportunities for students to achieve improved educational outcomes.” The task force was charged with developing a new integration aid funding formula.
In their report to the legislature, the task force was able to provide recommendations on how integration aid ought to be used by districts and how the Minnesota Department of Education can enhance their oversight of the program. The task force was unable to agree on what a new integration aid formula should look like. If the next legislature does not act in 2013 to repurpose the integration revenue program, integration aid in Minnesota will disappear. If action is not taken to sustain integration aid, districts will lose an important funding source for desegregation activities and progress made toward desegregation may slow down. It will be interesting to see what happens next year on this important issue in education finance.
Source of Integration Districts by Collaborative Images: Minnesota Department of Education.