ST. PAUL, MN – Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton announced a proposal for $124 million in one-time Emergency School Aid, which would provide additional, needed state funding for school districts across the state. Right now, more than 26 school districts in the metropolitan area and 33 school districts in Greater Minnesota are facing immediate budget deficits that could result in hundreds of teachers and support staff being laid off, along with significant cuts to school programs. Governor Dayton’s proposal would increase school funding by 2 percent in the coming year, amounting to an additional $126 for every student in Minnesota.
“From 2003 to 2012, our state's public school aid decreased, in real dollars, by almost $2,000 per student,” said Governor Dayton. “Since then, we have reversed that trend, increasing per-pupil aid by more than $1,000 in real dollars and investing $2 billion overall in E-12 education.”
“Still, many school districts throughout our state are now reporting that they face severe financial shortfalls, which will force the layoffs of hundreds of teachers and support staff in the next school year. This Emergency School Aid is essential to ensure that our schools can continue to provide the high quality educations their students need and deserve. I urge Legislators to join me in addressing the urgent needs of our students and teachers.”
“The Governor is doing the right thing by tackling this education funding problem head-on while we have a modest surplus. I want to thank him for being a champion for our children in Osseo and Robbinsdale Public Schools, and for recognizing the urgency of this situation. His plan is a bold investment that will keep more teachers in our classrooms, keep class sizes down, and give more students the chance to succeed,” said state Rep. Lyndon Carlson (DFL – Crystal). “As a retired teacher, I understand the real consequences for our students when we don’t meet our commitment to adequately fund great schools. Teachers all over our state are doing more with less, and that isn’t sustainable for the future success of our students or our economy.”
Rep. Carlson highlighted the Robbinsdale School District, facing a $10.6 million budget shortfall in 2018-2019, and the harm this would have on students due to faculty and staff layoffs, forcing the district to consider cutting 73 staff positions. Rep. Carlson also highlighted the Osseo School District, facing a $5.8 million budget shortfall in 2018-2019.
“While we need to do more to match our education funding to inflation and fund special education costs adequately, the Governor’s proposal means more students will get the instruction and support they deserve, at least in the near term, and that’s crucial,” Rep. Carlson said.
Based on voluntary survey data collected by the Association of Metro School Districts and the Minnesota Rural Education Association, at least 59 Minnesota school districts are facing budget deficits in the coming year. According to the Association of Metro School Districts, 26 school districts in the metropolitan area are facing deficits that could lead to hundreds of teacher layoffs. According to the Minnesota Rural Education Association, as least 33 school districts in Greater Minnesota will be eliminating staff due to budget deficits, including a total of 85 teachers and 75 non-licensed staff across these 33 districts.
Across Minnesota, state aid has not kept pace with the rising cost of ensuring excellent educations for every Minnesota student. A recent study from the North Star Policy Institute demonstrates how real funding for each Minnesota student dropped by $2,000 from 2003 to 2012. Recent investments championed by Governor Dayton have increased funding by more than $1,000 per student, but that still leaves Minnesota schools forced to do more with roughly $1,000 less, per student, than they had 15 years ago.