ST. PAUL - State Representative Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said today local schools will be seeing their first per-pupil funding increase in three years as a result of the balanced budget passed by the legislature Wednesday.
The agreement adds $800 million to K-12 funding for the 2006-07 budget cycle. That new money includes a 4 percent increase to the basic per-pupil formula for each of the next two years.
“This is one of the largest increases in Minnesota history,” Urdahl said.
The bill also contains provisions to ensure accountability in the way money is spent. Urdahl said that while adding more money to the education formula is a positive step, parents deserve to know that their money is being well spent and their students are getting the best education possible.
“Providing a quality education should be our focus. This year we put more money on the formula and passed reforms to make sure the money is spent with student achievement in mind,” Urdahl said.
In addition to basic formula funding, the budget also increases funding for Early Childhood Family Education by $5.5 million, increases Head Start by $4 million and $23 million in new money for special education funding.
Urdahl said he is also pleased that his bill concerning coaching dismissals passed the Legislature. The bill would require school districts to give timely notice when non-renewing a varsity athletic coach, give the coach an opportunity to appear before a school board and be given reasons for dismissal. The school board does retain ultimate authority in hiring and non-renewal.
Other notable funding increases and reforms include:
• $7.5 million for internet/telecommunications access grants
• $1 million for the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation
• $11 million for the “Get Ready, Get Credit” initiative, which aims to reduce “senioritis” in high school juniors and seniors by allowing them to take college-credit courses while still in high school
• Anti-bullying policies
• $100,000 for education administrative districts for rural schools who want to cut costs by consolidating certain administrative functions while retaining their independence and identity
The K-12 education funding bill passed as part of the compromise agreement reached in the legislature July 13. Urdahl said that while he wishes the compromise would have come without a special session or partial government shutdown, it is a “win for students, parents, teachers and the whole community.”