K-12 feels lucky with funding increases

  • Updated: January 27, 2009 - 8:57 PM

Schools lucked out in the governor's budget, winning funding increases at a time when overall state spending would be cut. And DFLers generally approve.

"The governor has given us tools to work with," said Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, chairwoman of the House K-12 Education Finance Division.

But there are varying degrees of luck for schools.

The biggest hunk of the funding increase -- $91 million -- would go to schools whose students show progress on state tests. How many students improve and the degree of improvement would determine the size of the bonuses. For Gov. Tim Pawlenty, it makes perfect sense that schools that do better should get more money. For DFLers, it means many schools that need the money the most -- often those with low-income and minority students -- could get left out in the cold.

DFLers reacted more positively to Pawlenty's proposal that $41 million more be spent to expand his Q Comp plan to every school in the state. That's the plan meant to tie pay raises more to student performance and peer evaluations than to years of service. Still, DFLers probably will push for more money to go directly onto the basic school formula, which would give equal funding increases to all school districts.

An unknown right now is how much money Minnesota schools will get from the economic stimulus package now making its way through Congress. In its current form in the U.S. House, Minnesota schools could get more than $1 billion for special-education costs, school construction and general revenue aid.

NORMAN DRAPER

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