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Some policy changes remain in K-12 agreement

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: July 20, 2011 - 2:34 AM

Republicans and the governor have reached a deal on K-12 education that strips some hot-button policy provisions but retains a variety of changes.

One of the biggest moves is expanding the amount of delayed school aid payments, which helped pay for the entire budget deal.

The most controversial aspect of the Republican budget, the elimination of integration aid, survived somewhat in the final agreement. The program, which sends extra money to the Twin Cities and Duluth to encourage integration, will end in 2013. A 12-person task force will decide where that money should go.

The education commissioner will appoint six members of that task force. The House Speaker and the Senate will each appoint three.

Teacher evaluations remain in the final deal, though tenure is no longer eliminated. The language is much more vague than the original Republican plan, which created a rating system for teachers. Thirty-five percent of a teacher's evaluation must be based on student growth.

Almost all of the collective bargaining changes, such as preventing teachers from striking, were removed from the bill. It does, however, repeal a law which penalized school districts for not reaching a deal with the union by January 15.

Lawmakers nixed a provision to give vouchers to poor families at low-performing Twin Cities schools so they could attend private school. An A-F grading system for schools was also eliminated.

Republicans had hoped to put a temporary cap on special education funding, but that was dropped in the final bill.

The bill raises the per-pupil funding levels by $50 in 2012 and another $50 in 2013.

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