All public school children must have equal access to a high quality education regardless of where they live in Minnesota.

Legislative Update  
A communication for education advocates in SEE districts.
January 13, 2017  
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What is happening at the Capitol
It was another week of introductions and learning in the education committees.  The House and Senate education committees listened to the legislative priorities of major stakeholder organizations such as SEE, Association of Elementary and Secondary Principals, Minnesota Business Partnership, Education Minnesota (the teachers union), Minnesota School Board Association, etc.  Many common themes emerged including addressing the teacher shortage, expanding innovation zones in schools, early learning for at-risk children and making tests more meaningful for students and teachers.

The Senate E-12 Finance committee heard a report from the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence (MCFE) with the dubious title of How Much is Enough?  The Implications of School District Labor Cost Trends for State Education Aid. Since 2007 school districts report total compensation (wages and benefits) for district employees.  MCFE took the ten years of data to calculate the average annual increases in total compensation.  The price of education labor varies greatly among school districts.  However, looking at the past trends to predict the future out to 2029, MCFE predicts that the basic formula would need to increase by 4.1% per year just to meet the labor costs in education.   In contrast, for the past 25 years, the average yearly increase to the basic formula has been 1.4%.  This puts pressure on the property tax system as districts have gone to the voters to get revenue just to provide the very basics in education, putting teachers in front of our children. The report went on to use this data to argue for changes in teacher seniority during layoffs and automatic steps and lanes.  I am sure we will hear more on this politically charged issue in the upcoming weeks. 

Funding the labor intensive entity of E-12 education is a daunting financial challenge for the state and for local school districts.  It also creates two conflicting pressures of keeping compensation low while trying to attract more people into the teaching profession to address the critical teacher shortage.  Over half of the people who currently hold a Minnesota teaching license are pursuing other career options.  It is already difficult to compete with higher wages that the private industry can offer. 

As always, check out Brad's Blog for more detailed information on what is happening at the Capitol. 
Additional legislative information
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. 


Deb Griffiths
Director of Communications and Community Outreach