Saturday, April 25, 2009

Budget talk in St. Paul

I've been thinking about state budget policy ever since my days working here in college, but it has taken on new meaning since I've joined a charter school board of directors! Now every 1, 2 or 3 percent has me reaching for the Pepcid.

The Minnesota House of Representatives has just passed a bill that would hold K-12 spending flat for the next two years. Minnesota Public Radio had a great segment that sums up most of the politicking: The Democrat-controlled House and Senate are trying to balance the budget by skimping on K-12 funds; the Senate bill, which passed a few weeks ago, included a 3% cut (HUGE).

Republican Governor Pawlenty is proposing a K-12 budget increase tied to school reform measures:
"If you look at the discussion around the country around school reform and accountability, adequate funding is important, I don't mean to diminish it," Pawlenty said. "But their bill is devoid of any meaningful reforms, either in the House or Senate, that would substantially, directly impact student learning."
Of course, it's questionable whether Pawlenty's reform measures - mostly merit pay - would actually "directly impact student learning."

At our school, we have budgeted for 0% increase or decrease from the state in the upcoming years. We are also considering enrolling in Q-Comp, the state's merit-pay system, which could get us an additional $20,000 next year.

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