Monday, September 5, 2011

Links to Information About Minnesota School Finance

The purpose of this posting is to provide some references (links) to resources that provide helpful information on Minnesota School Finance.  In most cases, the reports are available online, and I've provided a direct link to the information where possible. 

I.    Minnesota Budget

    A.    Minnesota 2009 Budget Trends Report.  This critically important report explains the genesis of Minnesota’s structural deficit:   the rising dependency ratio, the reduction in taxation, and the unsustainable growth in Minnesota’s health budget. Provides the best bi-partisan coherent explanation for the importance to Minnesota’s future of educating all students to high levels of proficiency.  Links to the Report:   Workgroup,   MinnPost Version  

    B.    1995 Report: Within Our Means  is a report issued by Minnesota Planning Report:  “If there is a time to solve the state’s fiscal problems, it is now. The economy has been strong. The percentage of Minnesotans of working age is still growing and will reach an all-time high in 2010, before beginning a long-term decline. Over the next 15 years, the combined proportion of children and elderly — the age groups most dependent on support from others — will be less than at any time since 1950. From now to the year 2010, the state will have a maximum percentage of people in their peak earning years. After 2010, solutions will be more difficult, as the percentage of Minnesotans of working age begins to decline

II.    Minnesota House of Representatives, 2010-2011

    A.     Financing Education in Minnesota.  This report is updated annually.  Explains, but does not analyze, the various components of Minnesota's financial funding formulas. 

    B.    The House legislative staff publishes a variety of memos relevant to education finance. 

III.    Minnesota 2020  Minnesota 2020 periodically publishes advocacy pieces prepared by staff research associates.   Minnesota 2020 studies advocate for a “price of government” inflation index, which tends to make the inflation adjusted growth in education funding significantly lower than studies using Consumer Price Index.   The organization recently published   Declining Funding, Degrading Quality, August 2011, a Survey of Minnesota Superintendents.  Argues that “By Fiscal Year 2013 (the 2012-13 school year), real per-pupil state aid to schools will have declined almost 13 percent over the decade. That’s taking into account the legislature’s recent $50 per pupil increase to the base funding formula. Nearly every Minnesota school district will be operating with less per-pupil, inflation-adjusted state aid for the 2012-13 school year than in the 2002-03 school year.

IV.    Minnesota Department of Education

    A.    A helpful list of MDE school  finance links may be found on the Parents United Webpage  

    B.    MDE Budget Spreadsheets.    Minnesota Department of Education maintains a variety of financial data on its websites.  Many of them contain worksheets that allow you to plug in the school district number and bring up detailed information about the particular district. 

    C.    Special Education Cross-Subsidies, Report to the Legislature, January 2011  The adjusted net cross-subsidy declined slightly from $352 million to $345 million between FY 1999 and FY 2001, but began to increase in FY 2002, and grew at an accelerating rate between FY 2003 and FY 2007, reaching $599 million in FY 2007.   As a result of the 2007 legislation, the cross-subsidy decreased to $507 million in FY 2008 but began to grow again in FY 2009 to $547 million. Due to federal stimulus funds in FY 2010 with anticipated carry-over in FY 2011, the cross-subsidy is projected to drop below the FY 2008 level in FY 2010 to $491 million and rise slightly in FY 2011 to $518 million. It is projected to exceed the FY 2007 level by FY 2012 and to reach $742 million in FY 2015.  Shows Concludes that average adjusted net cross subsidies varies by classification of school district. As of 2010,  The smallest of non-metro school districts average $380 per student.   Other non-metro school districts between $400 and $500.  Metro non-Minneapolis/St. Paul Districts averaged $617, and Minneapolis and St. Paul, $850.

    D.    Policy Issues in Special Education Finance (Minnesota Family Impact Seminar Briefing Report - 2009).   Excellent discussion of the issues presented by Minnesota's special education funding system.

V.    Parents United for Public Schools (  This highly respected public school advocacy organization publishes or links to a number of studies and newspaper articles on the State of Minnesota public education.

VI.    Schools for Equity in Education  Schools for Equity in Education (SEE) is an association of 58 school districts throughout the state of Minnesota.  See’s predecessor was a leader in the commencement of the Skeen litigation. Its member school districts serve approximately 250,000 children, over one-third of Minnesota's K-12 public school students. SEE explains: “SEE districts tend to receive the minimum in state aid based on its student population and also tend to have lower property wealth. These combined characteristics along with the current problems in the state funding formula result in most SEE districts receiving well below the state average in funding.”  See maintains a variety of useful studies on its website.

    A.    The History of the General Education Basic Formula The basic formula is per pupil funding that districts receive from the state. These dollars determine a district's operating fund. This chart shows that the basic formula would have to be increased by $1,903 for schools to have the same buying power they had back in 1991.

    B.    District Referendum Information

    C.    Revenue Disparity 2009/10 The gap in funding between school districts is growing and most of the growth is due to disparities of referendum revenue between districts.

    D.    An Exploratory Analysis Hamline University School of Business April 30, 2009.  Discusses the inflation adjusted growth in school funding; the E-12 share of the State budget over time.  Argues that the Minnesota legislature has allocated funds to various formula components without making a meaningful effort to connect the amount of funds allocated to the cost of achieving the objective assigned to those funds.  


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