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House and Senate reach a preliminary deal on K-12 budget

Posted by: Eric Roper under Minnesota legislature Updated: May 12, 2011 - 4:24 PM

Updated at 11:24 a.m. Wednesday

Republicans in the House and Senate have reached a preliminary agreement on the largest portion of the GOP budget: K-12 education.

The K-12 conference committee met briefly Tuesday evening to agree to a two-page "framework for agreement," which would combine the two budget bills into one for the governor. The list of provisions is expected to be converted into bill form sometime soon.

The K-12 funding bill represents about 40 percent of the state's general fund budget. The two bodies agreed to spend $14.129 billion over the biennium.

Most notably, the agreement reduces what was a $50-a-year increase in the per-pupil funding formula over the biennium to about $20 a year. (Note: the Senate version originally planned for a $36 increase in FY13).

A temporary teacher pay freeze? Nixed.

A plan to convert the Perpich Center for Arts, a state agency, into a charter school? Nixed.

Special education freeze? Nixed/Altered. While the original bills eliminated special ed growth, the agreement cuts the normal 4.6 percent growth rate down to 2 percent over the biennium.

Vouchers, school grading, tenure elimination and teacher evaluations* survived in the agreement. As did a provision that prevents teachers from striking over wages if their pay rises no more than the per-pupil funding.

The agreement also eliminates integration aid, a major component of both the House and Senate bills. It converts that funding, most of which went to the Twin Cities, into literacy aid which would go to students who are struggling with reading across the state.

*The exact language of teacher evaluations was agreed to after 11 p.m. Tuesday. It appears they adopted the bulk of the House bill, authored by Rep. Branden Petersen and backed by top business groups. Teachers would be rated on a 5-point scale based heavily on student testing, which would affect their employment. Read the language here.


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