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Minnesota: "Rising cost of educating students with growing number of special needs"

Feb 23, 2020, St Paul Pioneer Press: Despite half a billion in new money, many Minnesota school districts are in the red The biggest single spending increase in last year’s bipartisan two-year budget deal was a $540 million boost in education funding — so why are so many Minnesota school districts facing budget deficits? Twenty-eight school districts in the Twin Cities metro area — and more in Greater Minnesota — say they’ll likely have to cut staff and services if the Legislature doesn’t give public schools some of the state’s projected $1.3 billion surplus. Metro districts have a combined budget gap of $93 million, according to a recent survey. This year, Minnesota will spend close to $10 billion to educate nearly 900,000 students. Another $3 billion will be raised for schools by local property tax levies. Yet, Scott Croonquist, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, says state funding continues to lag the rising cost of educating students with a growing number of special needs. Minnesota districts face a $1 billion-a-year gap in the programs they are mandated to provide — such as special education and teaching English learners — and the state and federal funding to pay for it. Until those gaps are addressed, “We will be back here every year,” said Croonquist, who surveys his 41-member districts each year about their finances. “And we will continue to try to pass local levies.”…


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