Young McDonald men Aiden (6th grade) and Jacob (senior) return to school.
Congratulations to students who this week began a new school year and hats off to parents who are doing their parts to help our children achieve success in the classroom.
That family foundation is so important to learning and it is important to soak up each moment because, as any parent knows, time flies. It seems like our eldest son, Jacob, somehow overnight grew from wearing diapers to entering his senior year.
I was honored to make photos of not only Jacob and the rest of his Delano Tigers football team for the new season, but to photograph a number of other fall sports teams. Good luck to all of our local athletes this season!
The new school year also features a number of legislative changes enacted in recent months, from a $1.35 billion K-12 funding increase to reform initiatives to help improve our system and help our children learn. We also successfully led the way on making better and smarter investments for our students and schools. This includes targeting dollars toward proven early-learning initiatives that best serve our youngest students and their families.
We also advanced policies that improve student learning and keep the best teachers in the classroom. For example, we created a new Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board to replace the troubled Board of Teaching. This follows recommendations from a critical Office of the Legislative Auditor report, which called for streamlined licensure and increased transparency to the process.
Another reform-minded effort continues the House majority’s efforts to strengthen teacher recruitment and retention, especially in areas with teacher shortages. Funding is provided for a number of educator grants and programs.
The “last-in, first-out” default has been repealed from state statute. This change gives schools and local bargaining units more flexibility on staff retention agreements to better serve students, teachers and schools. It should be noted new law does not place mandates on what must be negotiated, but simply allows additional criteria beyond seniority to be part of considerations.
Tax season is still a number of months away, but there are some new education-related benefits I encourage parents to keep in mind.
Minnesota has both a credit and a subtraction for education expenses. Most school supplies qualify for the credit or subtraction, including writing utensils, textbooks, and musical instrument rentals. Common items that do not qualify for the subtraction or credit include school lunches, uniforms, backpacks, and more. Parents are encouraged to check the Department of Revenue website to determine which expenses qualify.
While the education subtraction is not subject to income limits, the credit is limited to households with incomes less than $37,500 for families with one to two children, $39,500 for families with three children, and adding $2,000 per child for families with four or more children. According to the Department of Revenue, more than 43,000 families took advantage of the education credit saving an average of $242. In all, nearly 200,000 families took advantage of the education subtraction.
Full details about the Education Subtraction and Credit can be found on the Department of Revenue’s website: http://www.revenue.state.mn.us. McDonald encourages constituents who have questions about the credit or subtraction to contact their office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (651) 296-4336.
On a final note, I want to remind people of something I mentioned in an email last month: The minimum fine has been raised from $300 to $500 for failure to stop for a school bus that has activated its stop arm and flashing red lights system. The penalty also applies to passing a school bus on the right when its warning light system has been activated.
Be safe on the roads and, again, God bless and good luck in the new school year.