Senate Republican education proposal focuses on “Your School, Your Needs”
An innovative Senate Republican education proposal would provide a burst of funding directly to Minnesota classrooms while relieving districts of costly, burdensome state mandates that have long tied the hands of school boards, principals, and teachers:
EQUITABLE FUNDING FOR EVERY CHILD
The “Your School, Your Needs” funding bill would allocate an extra $175 per student for 2016 and $180 per student in 2017 – an increase of 3%. It is a fair, equitable funding method that treats every student in Minnesota exactly the same. For comparison, the governor proposed a 1% increase to the current education “formula” that distributes money unevenly across the state.
“The ‘Your School, Your Needs’ funding would be allocated based on a pure per-student formula, eliminating the current inequities built into today’s complicated education funding formulas,” said Senator Sean Nienow, the chief author of the proposal.
NO STRINGS ATTACHED
In the past, the legislature has forced schools to spend new money on very specific programs that may not align with students’ needs. The Senate Republican education plan comes with no strings attached, giving schools flexibility to spend the money on innovative new ideas that boost student achievement. Locally elected school boards and parents will get to decide how their students will benefit from this funding. This plan also allows schools to opt-out of any future mandates that are forced upon schools for the next two years.
Another key feature of the proposal is the “lockbox” provision. It allows school districts to set aside money for specific projects so it cannot be touched during negotiations or budget discussions. School boards will be able to take advantage of the lockbox provision to innovate in the classroom.
“Education is delivered at the local level and it’s time we allow parents, teachers and school board members the freedom and the money to innovate,” said Senator Eric Pratt. “Every school district has an idea they would like to implement if only they had the money and the freedom – this bill allows for hundreds of unique education reforms across the state.”
“Your School, Your Needs” is about trust and priorities. For years, the only answer to problems facing Minnesota’s education system has been funding increases. But as funding increased, school districts were harmed with hundreds of mandates that told them exactly what to do with the money. The Senate Republican education bill places faith in local school boards and parents to determine how best to spend education dollars.
“The best ideas in education don’t come from Washington or St. Paul,” added Senator Roger Chamberlain. “They come from Crookston, Columbia Heights and White Bear Lake – and they come from parents and teachers, not bureaucrats and politicians.”
The new funding represents 3% increase in each of the upcoming two school years. In contrast, Governor Dayton proposed only 1% in his budget announcement, and the Senate DFL offered no new money for the classroom in their February 4th education press conference.