Minnesota education officials breathed a sigh of relief this morning when Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled the state must make "lawfully appropriated payments" to schools during a shutdown.

Under Gov. Mark Dayton's previous plan, the state would have ceased payments to school districts altogether, forcing them to borrow funds or dip into reserves to keep summer activities afloat. Gearin's ruling restores about 80 percent of normal funding to school districts.

That 80 percent includes general education dollars, the largest chunk of the K-12 equation. Some other money will not be doled out because the funds are not already appropriated.

The Department of Education will remain largely dormant durnig a shutdown, with only six full-time employees remaining on board.

Oddly enough, school aid payments will briefly revert back to pre-shift levels during a shutdown, even though Dayton and GOP lawmakers want the shift to be continued.

“More or less [it] will be business as usual,” said Charlie Kyte, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. “We’ll have a little cleanup work to do once the shutdown is over.”

Several education groups are meeting with commissioner Cassellius on Thursday morning. Department of Education spokeswoman Charlene Briner said there is a tentative conference call scheduled between department officials and education groups Thursday morning.

"It leaves schools in a much better place," said Greg Abbott with the Minnesota School Boards Association. "Our main concern is that K-12 be treated as a core function and that's one thing that the judge agreed with."

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