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MN: Bill proposed giving $475M for school mental health; 1,000 new positions

April 11, 2022, Grand Rapids (MN) Herald Review: New funding for schools

The chairs of the Minnesota House Education Finance, Policy, and Early Childhood committees have announced a robust plan to provide new funding to support students, families, public schools, and school staff.

“For strong and stable schools, we must continue our commitment to getting our Minnesota students and families the resources they need to recover from the pandemic’s fallout,” said Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), chair of the House Education Finance Committee. “All our students deserve a world class education and robust emotional support that meets their individualized needs.”

The bill’s mental health package, totaling $475 million, will address shortages of school support personnel that benefit students’ social, emotional, and physical health, and fund wrap-around services for students. House Democrats say their proposal will allow schools to hire more than 1,000 additional counselors, social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, and chemical dependency specialists. …

Statewide, the difference between what it costs to provide special education services and what the state pays for those services is more than $700 million. The deficit in English Language Learner services is nearly $150 million. The House DFL education proposal provides more than $500 million annually over the next three fiscal years to significantly reduce the amount school districts pay to make up for these shortfalls.

On April 1, Senate Republicans announced a plan to fund public education by an additional $30 million. Republicans’ proposal includes $0 for student mental health.

“Students, families, and teachers are starting to recover from unprecedented disruptions to their lives, and they need stronger public schools to succeed. With this historic budget opportunity, Democrats want to support students at every level, but we can’t do it with Republican plans to shower tax benefits on those at the top,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “We will never stop pushing for our kids to be the top priority in Minnesota, and no tax cut plan can ever create as much opportunity for success as can a great education.”

The House DFL proposal uses Minnesota’s historic budget surplus to provide $1.15 billion in additional education funding in fiscal year 2023 and $2.12 billion in fiscal years 2024 and 2025. Last year, the divided Legislature approved the largest formula increase for public schools in 15 years. The compromise budget funded public education by an additional $554.204 million in fiscal years 2022-2023 and $668.957 million in fiscal years 2024-2025. It included 2.45% and 2% increases in the per pupil funding formula in Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, respectively.


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