Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday urged legislative leaders to approve additional funding to hire school counselors, among other professional staff, and a grant program to improve the state's preschool facilities.
Dayton said he wants $13.1 million for a grant program that would increase the number of school counselors, psychologists, social workers and other staff. Minnesota has 1 counselor for every 792 students, a high ratio that advocates say leaves students under-served.
The governor also wants $40 million for a grant program that school districts could tap into to pay for facilities expansion for Dayton's goal of eventual universal preschool.
"Although facilities assistance funding was in my original voluntary prekindergarten proposal, these additional resources would help more districts alleviate space shortages -- paving the way for voluntary prekindergarten," Dayton wrote in his letter to House Speaker Kurt Daud, R-Crown, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.
Dayton's request comes with about a month left in the legislative session. House Republicans on Monday approved a supplemental budget for education that had no new spending. The legislation paid for new programs through savings -- about $55 million -- the state expects once some school districts repay outstanding state loans by the end of the year.