At its December meeting, the Association of Metropolitan School Districts Board of Directors adopted a legislative platform calling on state policymakers to build on the momentum of the 2023 session. More specifically, AMSD is urging the Governor and Legislature to fund the new programs they adopted in the 2023 session, enhance school safety, address the impact of historic inflation and staffing shortages, and spur high school redesign by creating alternative pathways to graduation and allowing students to earn credit for learning wherever it occurs.
While the omnibus education bill approved last session made significant strides toward stabilizing the education funding system, school district budgets have been significantly impacted by historic inflation and staffing shortages. It is critical that state policymakers finish the work they started last session by funding new mandated programs and addressing the impact of inflation. An overview of the 2024 platform is outlined below.
Fund New Requirements and Inflationary Costs
Historic new expectations, programs, and requirements for school districts were included in the education bill, and numerous other bills, in the 2023 session. AMSD supported many of the new requirements, but they come with increased costs — both monetarily as well as significant staff time. Some of the new requirements were funded, while others were only temporarily funded or came without funding.
The 2024 AMSD Platform calls for a 2 percent formula increase and increasing local optional revenue to address inflationary cost pressures and the costs associated with the new requirements. In addition, it is important that the Governor and Legislature fully fund the READ Act, make compensatory hold harm- less funding permanent, and establish funding streams to cover the costs of unemployment insurance and the Paid Family Medical Leave program.
Enhance School Safety
To ensure safe learning environments for students and staff, the platform urges legislators to remove the per pupil limit in the Long-Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue program and expand the allowable uses of revenue to include security modifications to buildings, remodeling, and additions to existing space. The platform also urges the Governor and Legislature to increase the Safe Schools levy, which has not been increased since 2015, from $36 to $108 per pupil. AMSD also urges the Legislature to clarify language related to the use of physical restraints to ensure the safety of students and staff.
Prioritize Student-Centered Learning Through Enhanced Local Control
Locally elected school boards are in the best position to work with their staff, students, parents, and communities to address local needs and challenges. Accordingly, the platform calls on legislators to repeal the requirement that school boards negotiate e-learning days and student-to-staff ratios and advocates for increasing student-centered learning opportunities by creating alternative pathways to graduation and allowing students to earn credit for learning wherever it occurs.
In addition, AMSD is advocating that the MN Department of Education take advantage of the flexibility offered by the U.S. Department of Education to reduce the number of required standardized tests so school districts can offer assessments that more accurately measure growth, proficiency, and college or career readiness.
Address the Educator Workforce Shortage
The staff shortages that have been predicted for more than a decade are coming to fruition. And while the state has made some progress at diversifying the educator workforce, much work remains to be done.
To address these challenges, AMSD urges continued support for programs like Grow Your Own and apprenticeships, maintaining multiple pathways to teacher licensure, and extending the short-call substitute teaching pilot project to four years, while also eliminating the required minimum salary.