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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bud Nornes (R)

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House passes education package with focus on school safety

Thursday, April 26, 2018

 

ST. PAUL — On Thursday, April 26, 2018, the House passed bipartisan education legislation on a vote of 94-29 that puts students first. House File 4328 prioritizes school and student safety, increases transparency in school finance and performance reporting, and helps prepare kids for a bright and successful future.

“I am proud of the comprehensive school safety and education package we’ve put together this session. Our bill puts Minnesota kids first,” said House Education Finance Chair Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie. “From providing critical resources and flexibility for our schools to address student safety and mental health, to creating a School Report Card for families to easily research and compare schools to find what will work best for their child, we are focused on innovative solutions that will make a meaningful impact on education in our state.”

Highlights in the education portion of the bill include:

  • Championing a multifaceted approach to give school districts the resources and flexibility they need to address student safety and security. That includes expanding the use of long-term facilities maintenance revenue for facility security upgrades, strengthening the state’s commitment to school-linked mental health grants, supporting suicide prevention training for teachers, increasing funding for Safe Schools Revenue, and more
  • Strengthening and clarifying state law to address teacher misconduct and teacher licensure including prohibiting sexual relationships between educators and students, even if that student is 18; requiring periodic teacher background checks; and prohibiting the issuance or renewal of a teacher/administrative license or bus driver endorsement for certain felonies or gross misdemeanors involving a minor
  • Requiring the Minnesota Department of Education to create a School Report Card —a one-stop-spot for summative and easily accessible school and district ratings that will provide families with a place to research, compare and help determine which school will work best for their child
  • Enhancing the transparency of school funding and our commitment to tackling our state’s achievement gap by doubling the number of school audits each year. These audits will discern whether or not education dollars allocated to school districts and dedicated to special education, English-learner and low-income students are reaching the students intended
  • Ensuring students are exposed to a wide variety of post-secondary options including the trades and branches of the military
  • Strengthening laws that protect kids from school lunch shaming
  • Creating a Special Education Working Group to engage stakeholders and examine the factors that are driving rising costs

 “As chair of the Education Innovation Policy Committee, it has been my goal from day one to ensure that every student in Minnesota has access to a world-class education,” said Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton. “This year’s bill does exactly that by ensuring our students are safe while also ensuring that our schools are producing positive academic results. I am proud of our work this year; Minnesota’s schools are going to be stronger thanks to this legislation.”

A number of higher education provisions are also included in the package. Highlights include measures to fund student loan debt counseling, bring new sexual harassment reporting requirements and policies to the University of Minnesota, and to back a textbook affordability initiative. Overall, $4 million in supplemental funding is appropriated to state colleges and universities, along with $1 million to Metro State for cybersecurity programming, and $500,000 to each the University of Minnesota and the Office of Higher Education.

“The committee has done well to address a number of important issues during such a brief session,” said Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, who chairs the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee. “I am pleased that in a non-budget year, we still were able to provide funding for initiatives that once again highlight our mission to put students first.”

 

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