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Advocating for School Funding

Inviting All Staff And Families To Join Us In Our Advocacy

Over the past several weeks, we have been working with our state legislators to advocate for our schools and communities. Our state currently has more than a $9.25 billion budget surplus, the largest surplus in Minnesota history. We believe the legislature has an opportunity to correct two important issues: 1) increase equalization aid to lower local property taxes and 2) begin to fix the state’s education funding formula.

According to the Minnesota Rural Education Association:

State aid for public education funding has not kept up with inflation, and school systems routinely struggle to attract and retain staff to meet student educational needs. The current funding model has led school districts to heavily rely on requesting taxpayer support through operating referendums, creating major disparities across the state. To help schools compete in an ever-tightening labor market and meet student needs, the state needs to significantly increase and stabilize funding for Minnesota’s local public education systems.”

In July 2021, legislators touted “historic funding for schools” with a 2.45% increase, but that amount is far less than the current rate of inflation and did not even match the traditional inflationary rate of 3%. In fact, educational funding has not kept pace with inflation since 2003.

Last fall, our local community approved additional referendum funding to hire and retain more teachers and lower class sizes, and we are grateful. After three years of budget reductions totaling over $8.5M and over 100 staff lost, the referendum funding will help us, but will not be a long-term solution. Local support does not relieve the state of its responsibility. A 2021 School Funding Report from the Department of Education clearly states our state funding formula is unfair, broken, and needs attention. In cooperation with SEE and MREA, we are advocating for the legislature to increase funding for schools and increase equalization to lower property taxes. There are many bills to achieve this goal, and we are talking with local legislators about the impact of each on our local schools. Additional school funding must be a priority. 

Contact Your Local Representatives

We would like to invite all staff and families to join us in our advocacy. Please contact your legislative representatives and ask that they fix educational spending once and for all. For your convenience, below we have added some specific bills that we support for your consideration. We need to continue to work together for a brighter future for all Bluejackets. 

May 9 - Press Conference and Day of Advocacy

Parents, school board members, school administrators, and concerned citizens from across Minnesota will call on the Minnesota Legislature to use a portion of the historic state budget surplus to fulfill their obligation to fund important, and mandated, special education services. According to the Minnesota Department of Education data, Minnesota’s special education funding shortfall is estimated at $820 million for the current school year. How to help:

Bills of Top Priority for School Funding:

Other Bills of Interest: 

Advocating for Early Childhood and Community Education Funding

School Age Child Care Bill: Currently, the school age care special needs levy is available for use to support students grades kindergarten through six. This funding stream ensures programs are able to provide adequate accommodations, support, and staffing needed to ensure equitable access and experiences for all students in school age care programs. 

Legislation to expand the age range of children served by school age care programs and increase funding for school age care programs was heard in the House Early Education Finance and Policy Committee. The purpose of the hearing was to amend the bill to clarify the purpose of the special needs levy.

General Community Education Revenue Bill: The general community education revenue levy is one of the funding sources within the department. It is intended to ensure programming and opportunities are available for all community members. It is one of the critical consistent funding streams we have to support staffing expenses. It has not increased since 2005. The Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee has heard the proposed bill, SF3586, which asks for an increase to the general community education revenue from $5.42 to $7.00. 

Early Childhood Related Bills: We are closely watching a variety of bills related to early childhood education. Early childhood education provides programming and support for families with children ages birth to five. These programs include home visiting to parent education to preschool. Investing in quality opportunities and programs during the early learning years provides support for families in their role as a child's first teacher and provides access for all students to participate in learning programs to support their intellectual, emotional, and social development. Without legislative funding, these programs solely rely on tuition and fees and are not sustainable or accessible for all.

Other Bills of Interest: The House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee will hear bills to increase early learning scholarships to birth-age three, make early childhood special education students eligible for prekindergarten school breakfast reimbursement and English learner servicesexpand eligibility for child care assistance. The Senate Education and Finance Policy Committee will hear a bill related to modifying the calculation of early childhood family education revenue.