The bill continues the commitment of the Senate to focus on students first and fund what works.
The Minnesota Senate approved a comprehensive E-12 education budget Wednesday that spends $19.78 billion over the next two years. This is an increase of $940 million or 5.1% more than the current budget. If enacted, SF 7will be the largest school spending law in Minnesota history.
“This bill focuses on students – keeping them safe, helping them grow and preparing them for an ever-changing economy,” said Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), Chair of the Senate E-12 Education Finance Committee. “The Senate is committed to increasing the budget for our schools and students as reflected in our 5% increase in funding.” This bill adds $93 million to the per pupil formula, which makes up half of education funding and gives local flexibility to school districts. This bill also focuses on safe schools, early childhood education, and literacy.
Sen. Nelson also pointed out the Senate makes historic funding increases to education without a state tax increase, without local property tax increases and without new unfunded mandates placed on local schools. The Senate bill provides an additional $75 million in safe schools revenue that may be used for a wide variety of facility and programming purposes that improve safety, including hiring school counselors. Additional funding in the bill is made available for suicide prevention ($480,000) and school-linked mental health ($5 million).
“We know that students cannot learn if they don’t feel safe,” said Nelson. “Students are facing unprecedented challenges, and we are making sure they are kept physically safe and mentally sound in order to learn.”
The Senate bill also focuses on early literacy and replaces soon-to-expire early childhood slots with parent-empowering Early Learning Scholarships. The scholarships aim to prepare students for kindergarten and provide early learning opportunities to students who would not otherwise be able to attend pre-school. The bill includes $500,000 commitment to help train teachers in reading instruction by evidence-based and structured providers as called for by the National Reading Panel.
“Forty percent of high school students do not meet proficiency standards for literacy. That is a burden no one should carry into the world. We focus on literacy programs and methods that work to equip the next generation,” Nelson added.