Sunday, May 22, 2011

Some Districts Get Significant Cuts, while charters get increases

The House and Senate education bills have been marketed at holding public education harmless, but the House and Senate majorities have an unusual definition of harmless.   Actually, what is happening, is that some school districts are being held harmless--receiving an increase even, and other school districts are receiving significant cuts.  The cuts are all the more difficult for districts to sustain, because Governor Pawlenty froze the funding formula for the last two years, and provided only 2 percent and 1 percent respectively for the prior two years.   So all of these districts are getting cuts, on top, already, of the four leanest years in decades.

These cuts are inflicted on school districts that have made huge cuts already.  Now if these cuts were spread across the board, it would be perhaps understandable.  But actually, at the very same time, the legislature is providing increases to other districts, and especially to charter schools.   Now constantly, we hear the drumbeat in opposition to school funding that, well, this money doesn't make all that much difference.  One asks, then if money isn't important, why then is the house and senate majorities providing much bigger increases to charter schools.

Are the increases to charter schools a reward for closing the achievement gap.  No:  a study by the independent legislative auditor found actually that charter schools no better, and probably a poorer educational record in gap closing.  So what, then, is the increase to charter schools for, actually? The average charter school is slated to receive $11,210 per student, significantly more than we will receive in St. Cloud, even before makes allowances for the fact that St. Cloud and other traditional publics have special education deficits that charters do not have.   It is difficult to understand what in the world the legislature has in mind with this strategy, of significant charter school funding increases in a time of great need, and it is even more difficult to understand why the republican legislators in our district and others that are sacrificing their own local schools for this adventure.

The average change in school funding for school districts across the state is a $10 per student reduction.  The average change for charters is a $215 increase.   The average change for regional centers like St. Cloud, is a reduction of $7 per student, but our local legislators, except Hosch, voted for a $77 per student cut for St. Cloud.

The reductions per student listed on this chart does not tell the entire tale of the house and senate cuts.  Because the legislature has the regrettable habit of treating as a positive revenue, special education money that actually costs the school district more  in mandatory expenditures.  In fact, the more special education money that a district receives, in general, the worse off it is doing.   Just to use St. Cloud as an example, St. Cloud is given credit for receivingt $1500 per student in special education.   But that $1500 per student comes with a spending mandate of more than $2200.  However, when legislators look at the funding chart, they seem to think that they are doing St. Cloud a favor by giving us $1,500 that comes with a mandate that we spend $2200 per student.   That $700 deficit (which is slated to grow) makes special education money, "hot money," that seemingly causes you to go further in the hole, the more that you receive.  So most of these districts are actually experiencing even more significant cuts than this chart would indicate.

2011-203 Reductions per pupil for school districts
receiving cuts $40 per student or greater
Minneapolis -$190
St. Paul  -$152
Anoka -$66
Columbia Heights -$179
Pine Point -$75
New Ulm -$44
Montevideo -$46
Burnsville -$60
West St. Paul -$80
Inver Grove -$51
Albert Lea -$64
Hopkins -$70
Bloomington  -$61
Richfield -$119
Robbinsdale -$97
St. Louis Park -$86
Wayzayta -$43
Brooklyn Center -$41
Wilmar -$45
LeCentre -$48
Montgomery Lons. -$53
Ivanhoe -$46
Marshall -$86
Round Lake -$114
Worthington -$49
Fergus -$46
Mounds View -$64
No St. Paul -$84
Roseville -$60
White Bear -$71
St. Paul  -$152
Milroy -$47
Faribault -$54
Duluth -$84
Belle Plains -$46
St. Cloud -$74
South Wash -$40
Butterfield -$54
Madelia -$48
St. James -$50
Lake Crystal -$58
Yellow Medicine E -$76
Long Prairie -$64
Eagle Valley -$48


  1. Found your FB page a couple days ago and just linked it! Thank you for your advocacy!

  2. You are quite welcome. Good to hear from you.


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